STANLEY CUP NOTEBOOK: Seguin's goal drought at 11 games
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — With 76 seconds left in a game last round and the Dallas Stars clinging to a one-goal lead, Tyler Seguin laid out in front of a slap shot to block it and help preserve a victory.
It was one of those plays that showed the other things Seguin is doing when not putting up points, and interim coach Rick Bowness is correct that the team wouldn't be in the Stanley Cup Final without the 28-year-old center. But with Seguin now up to an 11-game goal drought that matches the longest of his playoff career, the Stars need him to produce against Tampa Bay in a final tied 1-1 and heating up.
"Do we need more from him? Yes," Bowness said, adding he'd like more from other players, too. “He had some really good looks last game. He needs one of those to go in, there’s no question. He’s working. He needs a break.”
Seguin last scored in Game 3 of the second round against Colorado and has just one assist since. He has taken 58 shots, second on Dallas behind only captain Jamie Benn's 62, but has just two goals in 22 postseason games.
"I feel like I’ve been playing a lot better as of late," Seguin said. “Definitely looking for that one bounce, but good things are happening when you’re getting chances and that’s what you look at.”
Seguin missed the net on one golden opportunity on the power play in ,. What could've been an emotional wound up not even being a shot on net.
“All we can do is keep reminding him: ‘Look, you’ve got to keep doing all these little things that help us win. Eventually, over here, that puck will go in,'” Bowness said. “Tyler and a few others are going to have to stay with it, get your nose dirty and get in there.”
The Lightning changed up their look going into Game 2 after the series-opening loss and were able to tie it up. Part of that was coach Jon Cooper inserting Jan Rutta in place of Zach Bogosian, the Czech defenseman's first game since Aug. 5.
Rutta shook off some early rust and played an effective 15:29.
“It took me a couple of shifts to get into the rhythm, but I think as the game went on, my game got better,” Rutta said. “I felt better as the game went on. So far in the bubble, I was just trying to stay in as much shape as I could and not go completely mad here.”
Rutta didn't go completely mad by watching hockey, spending time with teammates and putting things on his mind that weren't his injury. Now he's probably a mainstay in this series.
“I was just trying to stay positive and take it day by day and just trying to get back out there as soon as possible,” he said. “Obviously, I’m really happy to get to play.”
John Klingberg was chiefly responsible for each of the Stars' two goals in Game 2, taking the shot Joe Pavelski deflected in on the power play and shooting directly at Mattias Janmark's stick in the crease for a bank-shot goal.
“I knew Janny was going on the backside the entire time,” Klingberg said of the second goal. “I was just trying to wait and wait and see what (Lightning goalie Andrei) Vasilesvskiy was going to do, so Janny got his stick free and I just shot for the stick.”
It was more evidence of Klingberg's dominant postseason, which has featured strong play offensively and defensively.
“When you’re down 3-0 in the game, you need difference makers,” Janmark said. “I don’t think there’s a bigger one almost in the league. When he can start playing offensively, there’s no one else that’s more creative than him, I would think.”
It was unclear Tuesday if valuable Stars forward Blake Comeau will be able to play in Game 3 after being , by an open-ice hit from Ryan McDonagh. Bowness said Comeau was being evaluated.
"We’ll see what his status is," Bowness said.
Injured forward Radek Faksa, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop remain “unfit to play,” according to Bowness.
There's a chance the Lightning get captain Steven Stamkos back from a core muscle injury that has held him out since February. Will he play? To use Cooper's favorite term, tune in to find out.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed.
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