RTP Daily, September 23: Game 3 Promises Answers

Who takes the series lead, and will Steven Stamkos return?

Throughout the entirety of the NHL’s Return to Play proceedings, neither the Dallas Stars nor the Tampa Bay Lightning have lost back-to-back games. This is a trend that could break tonight, as the Bolts will look to make it two wins in a row, and take a 2-1 series lead over the Stars.

After Dallas rode a 35-save performance from Anton Khudobin to a Game 1 win, the Lightning responded emphatically in Game 2. Tampa roared out to a 3-0 first period lead, on the back of two powerplay goals, and were able to hold off a late Stars rally, and win by a final score of 3-2.

For Dallas, the focus will almost certainly be on getting off to a better start. They’ve proven that they’re more than capable of weathering the storm late in games, knocking off some of the league’s top offences in the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, but it’s going to be hard for them to dig themselves out of big early holes against this Tampa blue line, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. They know that if they get Khudobin a lead, he’ll carry them the rest of the way.

On the other side, the Lightning will need to take advantage of a powerplay that’s currently humming along. Nikita Kucherov has been surgical in his offence, while Victor Hedman and Brayden Point have been their usual gamebreaking selves, though the latter is quite obviously nicked up.

The big question is whether or night Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will make his much anticipated return tonight. The superstar forward hasn’t suited up since February 25th, undergoing surgery on March 2nd to repair a core muscle. He had 29 goals and 37 assists for 66 points in 57 games to that point, and while the Bolts have certainly proven they’re capable of winning without him, a return tonight would undoubtedly provide them with a major boost, both on the ice and emotionally.

Who Takes Game 3?

Tampa Bay Lightning17
Dallas Stars7

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