The Monday night meeting between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars was a very exciting second night of the Stanley Cup Finals. What looked to be a sweep for Tampa Bay ended up becoming very dynamic for Dallas in their attempt at a comeback beginning in the second period. Both goalies put up very solid numbers with Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin posting save percentages of .931 and .903 respectively.
Tampa Bay scored all three of their goals during the first period of play. The scoreboard was opened 11:23 into the first period by a one-timer from Brayden Point. The play started with Ondrej Palat taking control of the puck in the back of Dallas’ zone during a Tampa Bay power play. Palat found Victor Hedman in the rear center of the zone, who passed it to Nikita Kucherov inside the right faceoff circle. Kucherov passed it to Point in front of the net who tapped in the pass as a one-timer. Nikita Kucherov didn’t waste too much time in getting another assist off of a goal, this time assisting Ondrej Palat.
On another Tampa Bay power play, Kucherov grabbed the puck against the boards on the right side and passed it to Hedman who did a quick one-two with Palat. After a couple fake slapshots from Hedman and Kucherov, Palat was able to wrist it in after receiving this cross-ice pass, putting a 95.5 mph shot behind Khudobin’s back.
The third goal of the game from came from Tampa’s Kevin Shattenkirk, who has proven himself to be a very capable scoring defender during this postseason. Less than a minute after Palat’s goal, Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn attempted to score off of a rush but were stopped by a pad deflection. Blake Coleman took the puck and fed it back to Shattenkirk waiting in the rear of the zone. After carrying it forward about a foot, Shattenkirk was able to hit the puck low and fast into the left side of the Dallas net.
The Stars really struggled to come back against the lead that Tampa Bay had built up. The first goal of the night for Dallas didn’t come until they were put on the power play with 5:21 left in the second period. Jamie Benn won the faceoff beginning the power play for Dallas and passed it back to Alexander Radulov, who passed across ice to John Klingberg. Klingberg took the shot toward the Tampa Bay goal, and Joe Pavelski was able to deflect the puck into the net around goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Stars scored again from yet another tip off a great pass from defenseman Klingberg. Tyler Seguin carried the puck from inside of the Dallas zone to the center line where it was knocked away by Tampa forward Brayden Point. Radulov took possession of the puck again just over the Tampa blue line after it slid across the ice uncontrolled. Radulov passed it to Klingberg who pushed the puck into the right faceoff circle and then shot to the left side of the net. Mattis Janmark tapped the puck off of his skate and his stick into the net before Vasilevskiy was able to rotate to that side of the net.
The Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, was a little shaken by the team letting up two goals after gaining a lead. In an interview he said, “We’re in the Stanley Cup Final, you’ve got a 3-0 lead and you give up two; the one thing that this team has done is they just never put themselves in panic mode. Instead of trying to protect the lead, they went out there and actually they kind of took it to them. Not in the sense that we were trying to score, but we were completely engaged, it was really calm on the bench. It’s just our attitude. They don’t go through the waves of a game. There are so many emotions that occur through 60 minutes it’s easy to get caught up in it and they don’t. They knew the job at hand, the talk on the bench was to close this out, and that’s what they did.”
This series is still much too close to call, but if Tampa can keep up this level of play for the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Eastern Conference might just be bringing home another cup.