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Power play thrives, Bolts down Stars to even series

Things did not go as hoped for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday Night. Entering the 3rd Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, the Bolts dropped a 4-1 decision in Game 1 to the well rested Dallas Stars. Despite a sluggish start, Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 36-20 in the series’ opening contest. On Monday, Tampa Bay looked for answers to a stingy Anton Khudobin in Game 2. The Lightning opted to go back to the 12/6 lineup, inserting Carter Verhaeghe and Jan Rutta, while scratching Luke Schenn and Zach Bogosian.

Struggling power play finally breaks through

The Tampa Bay power play got an early chance when Mattias Janmark was called for high sticking on Nikita Kucherov at 3:20. The Lightning managed 1 shot on the power play but could not find the back of the net.

A scary moment in the 1st period came around the 7:30 mark when Kucherov took a hard spill face first into the boards. Kucherov briefly went to the locker room but returned to the bench shortly after and continued playing in the game.

The power play got another shot at 10:58 when Joe Pavelski was sent to the box for tripping Anthony Cirelli. Brayden Point mercifully broke an 0-14 power play scoreless streak when he converted on a pass from Nikita Kucherov to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. With that assist, Nikita Kucherov became the Lightning record holder for most points in a playoff year with 28.

Tampa Bay did not have to spend too much time skating at even strength as they got yet another power play chance at 13:11. Jamie Oleksiak was called for holding on Anthony Cirelli. Kucherov once again delivered an assist to setup a power play goal, dishing to Ondrej Palat who took advantage of a wide open net to put the Bolts up 2-0.

The scoring parade continued 54 seconds later. Kevin Shattenkirk fired through a screen from just inside the blue line to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. All 3 Lightning goals came within a span of 3:53.

The only Lightning penalty in the opening period came at 18:49. Ondrej Palat was called for holding on Jamie Benn giving Dallas their first power play chance. The power play carried over into the 2nd period, but the Stars could not convert.

Parade of Lightning penalties gives Stars all the momentum in 2nd period

The Lightning went back on the power play when Blake Comeau was called for interference at 2:02. However, it was short lived. Kucherov took a tripping penalty at 3:47 ending the power play chance. The Stars were once again unable to capitalize on their power play chance, but were given another opportunity shortly after. Yanni Gourde was penalized for cross checking Jamie Oleksiak at 6:26. Gourde took exception to an Oleksiak hit on Blake Coleman which resulted in the penalty. Dallas came up empty again with the man advantage.

Finally, with another chance due to an Ondrej Palat slashing penalty at 14:38, Dallas cashed in. 5 seconds into the chance, Joe Pavelski got got Stars on the board on a redirected shot by Klingberg.

At 16:58 of the period, a melee broke out after a Ryan McDonagh hit on Blake Comeau. When the dust settled, 5 players were assessed roughing penalties. For the Stars, Corey Perry and John Klingberg were sent to the penalty box. For the Lightning, it was Cedric Paquette, Victor Hedman, and Pat Maroon.

Tampa Bay killed the penalty successfully and escaped into the second intermission with a 2 goal lead.

Stars cut deficit to 1, Lightning lock down

As a result of the excessive power play opportunities, Dallas maintained the momentum throughout the entire 2nd period. The Stars outshot Tampa Bay 18-5 in the period. That energy carried into the 3rd when Mattias Janmark converted a tip in from John Klingberg to cut the Lightning lead to 3-2. Tampa Bay went on to outshoot Dallas 11-2 for the remainder of the game after the Janmark goal.

Mikhail Sergachev appeared to have extended the Lightning lead with a goal at 9:14, but a Stars challenge determined that the play was offside and the score remained 3-2.

With 6 minutes to play, Tampa Bay took control and put together extended pressure in the Stars zone for the better part of 4 minutes. Dallas was unable to tie things up with Anton Khudobin pulled, and the Bolts held on for a 3-2 win. The Stanley Cup Final is all even at 2 games a piece heading into Wednesday’s game 3.

Final thoughts and notes

This was a game that the Lightning controlled for the better part of 2 periods. With the exception of the penalty marred 2nd period, Tampa Bay imposed their will on the Stars. The power play goals in the 1st period were huge not only for that unit’s confidence but for breaking through the brick wall that had been Anton Khudobin. Although they were outscored 1-0 in the 3rd period, there was never a point where it appeared that the Lightning were losing control or momentum.

3 stars of the game:

  1. Nikita Kucherov – 2 assists
  2. Víctor Hedman – 2 assists
  3. Andrei Vasilevskiy – 27/29 saves and a big bounce back effort from game 1








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