DALLAS – The Dallas Stars wasted a two-goal lead late in regulation before Tom Wandell saved them in overtime.
Wandell scored at 2:12 of overtime to give the Stars a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. Tampa Bay rallied from two goals down to send it into the extra session and Wandell ended it with a sharp-angle shot from the edge of the right circle off Loui Eriksson’s pass.
“Loui came in 2-on-2 and I know he’s a really smart player so I was just looking to get open,” said Wandell after his first career overtime goal and third winner this season. “It wasn’t the best shot, but it went in. It was a big win. We came back strong.”
The Stars didn’t want to go to the shootout, having compiled a 1-5 record in the tiebreaker this season.
“Had we not gutted it out and got that overtime goal, it would have been pretty disappointing,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said.
Stephane Robidas and Jere Lehtinen scored power-play goals during a 71-second span of the second period, and Morrow added a third-period power-play goal to give Dallas a 3-1 edge.
But Dallas couldn’t hold the advantage with less than five minutes left in regulation as the Lightning tied it on goals by Steve Stamkos and Jeff Halpern in a stretch of 47 seconds.
Stamkos scored his 17th of the season on the power play at 15:06, and Halpern drew Tampa Bay even on a backhander off a rush down the left side at 15:53 of the third.
Former Tampa Bay star Brad Richards had two assists for Dallas, 3-1-1 in its last five games.
Paul Szczechura also scored for Tampa Bay, and former Stars backup Mike Smith made 34 saves for the Lightning. Alex Auld stopped 25 shots for the Stars.
Both teams were weary after playing Friday night. The Lightning beat the New York Rangers at home 5-1 in one of their best efforts of the season, while the Stars lost 5-2 on the road to the Phoenix Coyotes in one of their worst.
Tampa Bay played its third game in four nights and sixth in the last 10. Dallas was in action for the seventh time in 11 nights.
“I thought we looked a little tired after travelling, but they had to travel too,” Smith said. “It looked like we were a little behind on some plays.”
The Lightning got the game’s first goal at 6:18 of the second on Szczechura’s wrist shot from the left circle off a 2-on-1 break following a turnover by Stars defenceman Matt Niskanen.
The Stars skated 5-on-3 when Robidas tied it at 1 at 15:44 of the second period with a one-timer from the top of the right circle.
Dallas had another 5-on-3 later in the second and the Stars grabbed a 2-1 lead at 16:55 when Lehtinen struck from the left of the net for his 499th career point just as the two-man advantage expired.
Morrow set up in front of the net and converted Jamie Benn’s centring pass at 3:34 of the third period for Dallas’ third power-play goal in its first four chances.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was pleased to leave town with a point, and the outcome could have been even better if an overtime shot Szczechura had gone in instead of hitting the post.
“From being down 3-1 and (facing) two 5-on-3s, and the way the guys battled, we’re glad to come out with a point,” Tocchet said.
NOTES: Dallas’ three power-play goals were a season-high and matched the most allowed by Tampa Bay this season. … Richards has 25 assists in 26 games. … The Stars recalled LW Fabian Brunnstrom from the AHL Texas Stars and activated C Brian Sutherby off IR. Brunnstrom was in the lineup while Sutherby was a healthy scratch. … Tampa Bay D Mattias Ohlund is close to returning after missing seven straight games (ankle).