What’s better than a rematch? A long-awaited one. That was the case for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Dallas Stars. The Stars, battling through COVID issues and an unprecedented local storm, has struggled to gain continuity this season.
In turn, on multiple occasions, their tilts against the Bolts had to be postponed. Despite the scattered schedule and just one win in their last eight games, there was no doubt ahead of this one that the Stars would be up and ready for a fierce battle.
Weathering an early Stars push
Determined to beat their championship rivals, and the team who shattered their hopes, the Stars came out with some energy to start the game. They jumped out to 4-1 shot advantage and were controlling territorially. That’s when these two teams got familiar with each other again, and the Lightning were able to find a spark.
Pat Maroon and Jamie Oleksiak dropped the gloves for a lengthy heavyweight bout. That fight, combined with a solid penalty kill their first time shorthanded, seemed to rejuvenate the Bolts, who began to pick up the pace and create some chances.
Putting the power back in power play
The Lightning’s biggest issue despite a win Thursday against the Hurricanes was their power play, which was 0/5. It didn’t take long to rectify those issues in this one, as Tampa Bay struck quickly their first time on the man-advantage. Ondrej Palat found a loose puck right off the face-off. Three seconds later it’s in the back of the net to make it 1-0 Bolts.
The penalty kill continued to thrive, spearheaded by some phenomenal work by Alex Killorn, as they held off Dallas without much danger on their second power play of the night to hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Bolts’ penalty kill continued to be excellent in the second period. They killed the majority of a Victor Hedman penalty before finding themselves down 5-on-3 for twelve seconds. Not only did they survive it, they scored before the second penalty had expired.
Anthony Cirelli, one of two Bolts returning to the lineup, joined by Erik Cernak, who left early last game, made an impact offensively. After missing six games, he sure didn’t miss a beat, taking a stretch pass in stride, maneuvering to the backhand, and beating Anton Khudobin to make it 2-0.
Pouring it on
Next up was Brayden Point, who put one home on an absolute snipe. He raced across the ice and wired it from the top of the right circle to extend the lead to 3-0.
Pat Maroon would deflect home a Tyler Johnson feed to make it 4-0. That would be the margin after 40 minutes of play, with Tampa Bay sitting very comfortably.
Captain closes it out
If there was any doubt coming into the third period, it was put to rest by wonderful penalty killing and a Steven Stamkos rocket. The bullet from the top of the circle made it a very comfortable 5-0 lead for the Lightning. They would cruise from there, going 6/6 on the penalty kill, and grabbing a 5-0 win.
Our three stars of the game
- Pat Maroon: One assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick. Maroon’s fight provided a spark, and his goal gave the Bolts extra breathing room.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy: 20 save shutout.
- Anthony Cirelli: A beautiful goal and solid game in his return after a six-game absence.
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