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NHL Stanley Cup Final Game Night: 9-23-20 Lightning v Stars

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  • NHL Stanley Cup Final Game Night: 9-23-20 Lightning v Stars

    Tampa Bay takes control of the series with a decisive G3 win.


    Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

    Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. Had to make a lot of big saves in the First Period while the team struggled with its puck management and then didn't have to do a lot the rest of the way. Sure would love the big cat to smell the trophy and just hulk up in these upcoming back to back games.

    First Period
    5:33 TB Kucherov (7), (unassisted)
    6:58 TB Stamkos (1), (Hedman, Rutta)
    11:19 DAL Dickinson (2), (Hintz)(SH)

    Second Period
    0:54 TB Hedman (10), (Cirelli, Palat)(PP)
    12:02 TB Point (11), (Kucherov, Hedman)
    18:55 TB Palat (10), (Point, Shattenkirk)

    Third Period
    6:49 DAL Heiskanen (6), (Pavelski, Cogliano)

    Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

    Really a tale of two games. The Lightning, despite leading 2-1 after the First Period, really played a really scary bad opening frame where they struggled with puck management and gave Dallas way too many chances. I don't know if that's a wrinkle that Bowness threw in for this game that the Lightning had to respond to or simply the fact Dallas' skating takes some adjusting to, but it was bad. Lots of mishandles of the puck and throwing it into dangerous areas of the rink and feeding the Stars forecheck. And that's maybe the lesson of the night: if you manage the puck Dallas is somewhat toothless offensively. They live off turning mistakes into counters with their speed. Not entirely different than the Isles in some respects except they're much faster and don't have a dynamic player like Barzal who can really take over a rush.

    To their credit, I think the coaching staff has been dynamite at making adjustments at the First Intermission in these playoffs and the middle frame of this game was some of the best hockey the Lightning have played in this postseason. It helped that the Lightning started it with a couple of power plays and dug out a goal and got some momentum, but it was the play at 5v5 that was special. The Lightning back pressure from the forwards was just suffocating and Dallas kept turning it over and feeding the Lightning forecheck over and over again. And, unlike Dallas, the Lightning have a lot of skill players who know how to capitalize on opportunities. Coming into this series I felt that, other than the Lightning's wild card advantages (Hedman and Vasilveskiy) the quality of their finishers and ability to put up goals is tough for a team like Dallas to keep up with. The Lightning top line, in particular, has been too much for Dallas to handle thus far.

    It was great to see Steven Stamkos get into this series and uplift the team with a goal. I doubt we see him again in these playoffs after re-injuring himself, but he owed it to himself and his teammates to give it a go and with a big goal in this game he potentially got his name on the Cup the honest way.

    Things potentially escalate quickly from here with G4 and G5 back to back on Friday and Saturday. The Lightning have a lot of momentum now and after chasing Khudobin I thought the Stars' push in the Third Period looked anemic. I don't want to say they look defeated and I fully expect their Spartan 300 effort in G4, but the seed of doubt got planted in their minds tonight in a way the Lightning failed to do when they had Dallas on the ropes in G2. So now, it's a matter of sticking to the lessons learned through the first three games. Stay out of the box. Don't feed Dallas' forecheck and get on their own, and they'll remain in the driver's seat in this series.

    Box score and extended statistics from

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