Game 3: Lightning 5, Stars 2; TBL leads 2-1
Once again, the Lightning proved to be the team to beat throughout these playoffs, edging out Dallas by a score or 5-2, as well as 62.58% of the expected goals share at 5v5 (per NaturalStatTrick.com). The Stars held their own and kept pace with the Eastern Conference Champions for most of the game, but it was a furious attack in the second period that ended up winning Game 3 for Tampa. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos opened the scoring in the first period, both showing off their top-tier sniping in the process:
Over halfway through the frame, Jason Dickinson got his team on the board with a shorthanded goal, thanks to some good-old-fashioned hard work in the Lightning zone by Roope Hintz:
As mentioned earlier, the second period was all Tampa. Goals from Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat brought the score to 5-1 Lightning, and Anton Khudobin was on the bench to start the final frame, replaced by Dallas’ 2017 1st round pick, Jake Oettinger.
Dallas kept the third period low-event and made things easy for the young netminder, and Miro Heiskanen cut Tampa’s lead to three in the process. That was all they could muster, however, as Andrei Vasilevsky stopped 22 pucks out of 24, contributing to a strong team win.
Dallas has been formidable throughout these playoffs, and it’s still far too early to count out former Senator Rick Bowness’ squad just yet. They’ve taken down Colorado and Vegas, two opponents whom many thought were too much to handle. Tampa, however, has a massive chip on their shoulder. They’re up 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final and they know it’s still two wins away from a successful season. Time is of the essence. They’ve traded significant futures for short-term upgrades. There’s also a cap crunch on the way. With the quality of their core, and the overwhelmingly lofty expectations placed on the team, second place is not far off from second-last place.