Game 3 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars is in the books and it was the Lightning grabbing the pivotal win to go up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Tampa Bay got off to a fast start as Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning’s leading playoff scorer, sent a snap shot past Anton Khudobin at 5:33 of the first period. The story of the game, however, was that Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who had missed the entire postseason due to an injury, returned to the Tampa Bay lineup. The team’s best goal-scorer and emotional leader played only 2:47 in the entire game, but he made it count, as he wired a wrist shot over Khudobin at 6:58 of the first to give his team a 2-0 lead that they would not give up. The Lightning went on to win 5-2 behind their captain’s inspiring return to game action.
The Lightning have to feel great about this series so far. Though both teams have scored eight goals total through three games, the Lightning have gotten timely goals from their stars to give them the 2-1 series lead. They have three players with 10 or more goals and three players with 20 or more points. Their offense looks unstoppable. Furthermore, defenseman Victor Hedman’s 10 goals this postseason are only two shy from tying Paul Coffey’s all-time record for goals in a postseason run by a defenseman.
The Stars continue to get contributions from all over their lineup and strong goaltending. The only difference is that in this series, they are struggling mightily not to fall behind early in games. Through the first three games of the series, the Stars have been outscored 6-2 in the first period. It’s tough to win games when you spend the whole time trying to climb back from an early deficit. Furthermore, the Stars top line center, Tyler Seguin, continues to struggle offensively with only two goals this postseason. The Stars will need more from Seguin in order to beat the high-powered Lightning.
Game 4 is on Friday, Sept. 25 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.