|Record||Goaltender||GAA / SV%|
|Dallas Stars||13-8-0||Jake Oettinger||0.00 / 1.00|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||14-4-1||Andrei Vasilevskiy||2.07 / .913|
TLDR: Tampa captain Steven Stamkos makes a short-lived return to play, and Stars’ backup goaltender Jake Oettinger came in as relief for Khudobin. Despite shifts in momentum, it was the Lightning that would win a 2nd straight game to take Game 3 by a score of 5-2.
With the Tampa Bay Lightning having tied the series with their 3-2 win on Monday night, both they and the Stars hoped to take back the series lead in Game 3. The Lightning are looking to maintain the momentum and confidence they gained with their win, and the Stars will be fighting to take back the reins. Dallas registered just five shots on goal in the third period of Game 2 and went 1-for-5 on the power play.
After having not played since February 25th, Steven Stamkos finally made his return to the Tampa lineup for Game 3. The big question surrounding the captains’ return was how much would he play, and how well could he keep up with the pace and physicality of the series? Stamkos began the game with Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette as line-mates. The Stars and the Bolts kept their starting goaltenders, Khudobin and Vasilevskiy, respectively. Brayden Point forced Khudobin to make a stop early on after a misplay by Jamie Oleksiak. A neutral zone turnover by Miro Heiskanen ended up in the net behind Khudobin as Nikita Kucherov tallied his 7th of the playoffs, five minutes and 33 seconds into the first.
Steven Stamkos, less than two minutes after Kucherov’s goal, gave his team a 2-0 lead.
Tampa’s two goals came on consecutive shots. Erik Cernak was called for tripping so Dallas received the first power play of the night. For the Stars, an opportunity with the man-advantage was the perfect time to spoil the Bolts fun. With 39 seconds remaining on the power play, Joel Kiviranta went off for interference, so play resumed as 4-on-4. The Lightning’s penalty kill, which was 6-for-7 during the series, successfully kept the Stars off the board. Much to the dismay of Tampa players and fans alike, Jason Dickinson scored short-handed for Dallas at the 11:19 mark to half their opponents lead.
There are few things like a short-handed goal that have the ability to fire up a team, and in the span of 60 seconds following the goal, Dallas peppered Vasilevskiy with eight straight shots on goal. Since the Stamkos goal, Dallas had put up the last six scoring chances, and had outshot the Bolts 10 to 2. The Lightning got their first power play of the evening with 22 seconds remaining as Alexander Radulov was called for hooking. Stars fans would argue that Blake Coleman holding Radulov’s stick should have been called first, or rather, instead of the reverse ‘holding’ call that was made. Tampa led 2-1, and would begin the 2nd period on the power play.
Steven Stamkos was not on the bench to start the 2nd period notwithstanding a strong showing in the opening frame. Despite Dallas winning the initial faceoff, with 44 seconds left on the power play, Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman made it 3-1.
Radulov was called for his second minor penalty of the game, this time for hooking, at the 4:31 mark of the middle period. Dallas held off the Bolts power play this time, but struggled to escape their defensive zone. Stamkos did eventually return to the bench, with 12:39 left in the period, but did not play with his initial linemates Maroon and Paquette. Dallas’ first shot on goal of the period came with just under 10 minutes left. A flubbed line change by the Stars led to a turnover that then led to yet another Bolts goal. A smooth feed from Kucherov to Brayden Point in front of Khudobin made it 4-1 with seven minutes remaining.
The Stars were gifted their next power play opportunity after Yanni Gourde went off for interference but did not convert. Ondrej Palat extended Tampa’s lead by four goals as he put up his teams’ 5th goal of the evening, and 3rd of the period.
Perhaps Dallas head-coach Rick Bowness would elect to pull Khudobin and start backup Jake Oettinger in the third period?
As predicted, Jake Oettinger got the nod to relieve Khudobin and play the final 20 in attempts of salvaging this Game 3. Dallas has been a great come-back team since the start of Bubble Hockey, and momentum swings were plentiful in this match. Three minutes in, Ondrej Palat and Mattias Janmark both went off for two minutes for roughing, so we would see 4-on-4 play once again. Behind the play, Jan Rutta and Jamie Benn became involved after Benn took a punch to the back of the head without a call. Both players received two minutes for roughing and 10-minute misconduct penalties. The Stars complicated the job of Vasilevskiy with a bouncing puck in the crease, and put up their 2nd goal. The goal was eventually credited to Jason Dickinson, marking his 2nd goal of the game.
Tampa with a three-goal lead went back on the penalty kill with Kevin Shattenkirk in the box for slashing but would once again kill it off. Dallas went right back on the power play with 7:19 left, as Mikhail Sergachev went off for tripping, and the story remained the same. Dallas was unable to convert on any of their four power plays, and Tampa ended their night 1-for-4 with the man-advantage. Another physical game, as expected, resulted in over 110 hits thrown over 60 minutes. Former San Jose teammates Barclay Goodrow and Joe Pavelski became involved but only Pavelski received a roughing penalty. Denis Gurianov was hit in the face with the puck right off the faceoff and was escorted to the locker room early, as was Pat Maroon for earlier events. Backup Jake Oettinger stopped all three shots he faced after relieving Anton Khudobin.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game
- Does Dallas take a chance in benching Khudobin and going with Oettinger for Game 4?
- The Stars’ stars have faded since Game 1, and they need to reemerge, and fast.
- The Lightning will be unstoppable so long as they let up pressure despite holding a lead.
Below is the schedule for the Stanley Cup Final series between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Friday September 25, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST
Saturday September 26, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST
Monday September 28, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST
Wednesday September 30, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST