TAMPA — For all the anticipation created when the NHL this season put the Lightning and Stars in the same temporary division — resulting in eight regular-season meetings between the teams that met in last season’s Stanley Cup final, with the potential for more in the postseason — time has taken some of the excitement out of the rematches.
The teams have taken winding paths to their first meeting since Tampa Bay dispatched Dallas in a six-game final in September in Edmonton.
The Lightning’s first road trip of the season was supposed to send them to Dallas, but the games were postponed after the start of the Stars’ season was delayed due to a coronavirus outbreak. Tampa Bay was slated to travel to Dallas again this month, but last week’s winter storm, record-low temperatures and power outages forced that series to be delayed.
As a result, the Stars are the only Central Division team the Lightning have yet to play entering their meeting tonight at Amalie Arena. That means Tampa Bay will see more of Dallas than any other opponent in the strictly interdivisional play down the stretch. In that sense, no team could have more of an impact on Tampa Bay’s path to the postseason.
Five things to know heading into tonight:
The rematch has lost much of its luster
Goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning and Anton Khudobin of the Stars shake hands after Tampa Bay’s Game 6…