The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 to take a commanding lead in the 2020 Stanley Cup. They now lead the Stars three games to one in the best of seven series. Tampa can close the series out tomorrow night to win the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.
The game between the Lightning and Stars started slowly and it was evident that both teams were determined to block shots. Both teams were playing the stingiest defense we’ve seen so far in the series. Obviously, both coaches instructed their teams to be the first team to score by making sure the other team didn’t. At 7:17 of the first,, the Stars John Klingberg snapped a shot pass Andrei Vasilevskiy to open the scoring. After his initial shot was blocked, Klingberg found the puck on his twig and lit the lamp. It was the first shot on net for Dallas.
While the puck possession and offensive zone time in the initial period was in Tampa’s favor, they still trailed in the game. In the waning minutes of the first, Joe Pavelski scored on a little breakaway to give Dallas a two goal lead. This goal with about a minute and a half left in the period could have deflated the boys from Tampa. Not this team, not this year. With 33 seconds remaining in the opening period, Brayden Point scored his 12th goal of the postseason. This allowed the Lightning to cut the lead in half and go into the first intermission down 2-1.
Second To None
So, to start the second period the Lightning had to play catch up. This is the period of the long change. As a result of trailing in the game, the Lightning were taking it to the Stars with their tireless fore checking. The hard work in the Stars zone paid off as the Lightning drew a tripping penalty on Jamie Oleksiak. On the ensuing power play, the Lightning made Dallas pay as Point tallied his second goal of the game to tie it up at two. Brand new ball game folks and little did we know this was going to be a harbinger of things to come.
As the middle frame moved on, the Stars took a 3-2 lead on a Corey Perry goal at the 8:26 mark. Tyler Seguin made a strong move towards the Lightning net with Mikhail Sergachev draped all over him. Unable to get a shot off, Seguin blindly passed the puck into the slot. Carter Verhaeghe failed to check the trailing Perry who had a wide open net that gave the Stars the one goal lead. The Lightning could have hung their head but they scrapped and fought and killed an Erik Cernak holding penalty.
Like the first period, as the second period was coming to a close things were about to change. The Stars Andrew Cogliano hooked a rushing Victor Hedman and earned two minutes in the box. Now, on the power play the Lightning tied the game at three with a Yanni Gourde goal. This goal with the man advantage with 1:06 left in the period gave the Lightning a lift heading to the second intermission.
Can the Lightning Make Some Magic
Tied heading into the third period, both teams were playing it tight. Not taking chances, playing strong, hard defense though the ice seemed tilted in the Lighting direction. After the initial back and forth, Alex Killorn fired a bullet of a shot hitting a friendly post stick side past Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin. This wicked goal was a portrait of determination by Killorn. Winning a puck battle behind the Stars net, Killorn came around and whipped a shot to give the Lightning a 4-3 lead with a little over 13 minutes remaining in the game.
As it turned out, Dallas wasn’t ready to concede. At 9:16 of the final frame. Pat Maroon was whistled for a holding infraction. To their credit, the Lighting penalty kill stepped up to this challenge. Though about 20 seconds after killing the penalty, Joe Pavelski tied the game at four. Pavelski fired a Hail Mary shot off the chest of Vasilevskiy that pin balled off Kevin Shattenkirk and in the net. Now it is officially nail biting time.
As regulation time was coming to an end, both goalies by now had given up goals, there were some magnificent saves made by each net minder. With less than a half minute left, Perry tried to slow down Point who was heading to an odd man rush. In his attempt to slow Point, Perry drew an interference penalty but Point was also called for an embellishment penalty. The referees blew this call. Perry jammed his stick on Point’s body where the sun don’t shine. Stick between his legs and in that sensitive area, Point went down to the ice. Maybe he didn’t fall as the referee thought he should but this call was horrendous. The third period ended in the tie.
No Time Like Overtime
On to overtime. Next goal wins. Teams playing on their toes. Obviously, Dallas wants to tie the series. For Tampa, they want to put the pressure on the Stars by going up by two games in the series. No player wants to make a mistake that could cost their team the game. But 37 seconds into the extra period, Sergachev gets called for holding against Seguin.
For the third time in the game the Lightning penalty kill came up huge. Killing off the Sergachev penalty, you could feel the momentum shifting towards the Lightning. A little over five minutes into overtime, Stars captain Jamie Benn tripped Tyler Johnson giving the Bolts a power play. Already 2 for 3 with the extra man, the Lightning were looking to end it here.
Gourde was taking the face off and dug in hard to win it slipping the puck to Maroon. Maroon slid the puck to Victor Hedman who faked a slap shot from the center point, passing the puck to Shattenkirk to his right. Skating in to just in front of the dot, Shattenkirk blasted a slapper past a screened out Khudobin for the game winner.
This was an absolute team win. They fought hard. They battled for pucks. The special teams were just that. The power play was 3 for 4. The penalty kill did not allow a goal in their three kills. The Lightning are up three games to one. In a rare back to back, these two combatants meet again tomorrow night at 8 pm.
For Dallas, they will look to extend the series one shift at a time. For Tampa, the boys are seeking the second Stanley Cup in Lightning history.
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