|Record||Goaltender||GAA / SV%|
|Dallas Stars||13-9-0||Anton Khudobin||4.55 / .857|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||15-4-1||Andrei Vasilevskiy||3.69 / .867|
TLDR: In a game of trading chances, it was a botched penalty call against Jamie Benn of the Stars that led to the game-winning goal from Kevin Shattenkirk of the Bolts. The Stars now face elimination in the back-half of this back-to-back.
In a pivotal Game 4, the Dallas Stars were looking to avoid falling to a two-game deficit against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa took Game 3 by a score of 5-2, and chased Stars starting goaltender Anton Khudobin off to the locker room as backup Jake Oettinger was entrusted with keeping the score respectable. Steven Stamkos, who made his return to the Bolts lineup after seven months on Wednesday, was deemed unfit to play in Game 4.
Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was sure to be a thriller. The first game of a back-to-back, in the Finals nonetheless, generally features a different style of play in order to preserve the strength and ‘finish’ that is needed for the back-end game. Should the Lightning win Game 4, they would be looking to close out the series and hoist Lord Stanley come Saturday night. On the other hand, Dallas needed a start as bright as their shining stars were dim. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov have struggled as of late, but history suggests that when needed, these three know how to get it done. Anton Khudobin got the nod for his 11th consecutive start. Early on, Jason Dickinson was escorted down the tunnel after blocking a shot for his Stars, but quickly returned. Dallas’ first shot of the game ended up being the first goal of the game. John Klingberg, at the 7:17 mark of the first, gave the Stars a 1-0 lead.
Nikita Kucherov nearly tied the game with his own goal moments later, but Khudobin came up with a big stop not once, but twice, on the same Bolts possession. The first power play of the game went to the Lightning, as Jamie Oleksiak was called for hooking. Tampa, who had tallied three power play goals on their last eight opportunities, was held off by the Stars penalty killers. With 92 seconds remaining in the period, a beautiful pass from Jamie Benn to Joe Pavelski ended behind Vasilevskiy to make it 2-0.
But 62 seconds later, Brayden Point halved the Stars’ lead on a breakaway to make it 2-1.
Despite registering just three shots on goal in the first, Dallas led 2-1.
Early in the middle frame, Tampa received their second power play as Oleksiak went off (again) for tripping. Unlike their first opportunity with the man-advantage, this time, the Lightning scored. With the game tied 2-2 after Point’s second goal, momentum shifted entirely in the Bolts favor.
Stars defenseman Roope Hintz was taken down along the boards by Tyler Johnson, but no penalty was called on the play. Hintz skated to the bench on his own power. With 11:34 left in the second, Tyler Seguin almost scored to make it 3-2, but couldn’t make it happen with two Bolts fighting to keep him off the score sheet. However, Corey Perry did bury the puck to reinstate his teams’ one goal lead.
Erik Cernak’s penalty for holding the stick resulted in the first Dallas power play of the night, but the Stars were unsuccessful in scoring. Six minutes and 28 seconds left in the period, and Hintz still had not yet returned to the bench. Andrew Cogliano was called for hooking with 2:26 left, and Yanni Gourde tied it 3-3, keeping Tampa in the game.
After 40 minutes, Tampa was outshooting Dallas 23 to 17, but the two teams were tied where it mattered most.
Hintz, who was taken down heavily in the second period, was not on the Stars bench to begin the third. Feeding off the momentum from their late goal in the middle frame, Tampa dominated play early on. Dallas found it increasingly difficult to complete a sequence of simple passes to exit their own zone and to challenge the Tampa defense. Joel Kiviranta had the puck inches from the Tampa goal-line, but the Bolts out-impressed the young Finn to keep the score tied. Shortly thereafter, though, Alex Killorn broke the tie with his 5th of the playoffs, making it 4-3.
Pat Maroon of the Lighting was called for holding, and so the Stars got another opportunity with the man-advantage. This was the perfect opportunity to tie the game, again, but Dallas was unable to do so. The Lightning did an extraordinary job of clearing the puck each time Dallas got possession during the power play. Joe Pavelski with his 2nd of the game, did manage to score at even strength less than six minutes after Killorn’s goal, making it 4-4.
Pavelski’s game-tying goal was his 12th of the playoffs. With the clock winding down and overtime looming, both the Stars and the Bolts wanted to score the game-winning goal to write separate yet similar stories in the same 4th chapter. With 28 seconds remaining in regulation, Corey Perry went off for interference, and Brayden Point received a questionable embellishment penalty. Play resumed as 4-on-4 for the remainder, and since neither team scored, Game 4 went to overtime.
Off the opening faceoff of the overtime period, Mikhail Sergachev of the Lightning was called for holding. With two Tampa players in the box, Dallas skated 4-on-3. The Stars would not convert. Jamie Benn was then called for tripping, though upon replay, there was no real penalty, and so the Lightning got the power-play. On the botched penalty, Kevin Shattenkirk scored the overtime game winning goal to lift his team to a 5-4 win.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game
- The Dallas Stars need more from their top line, and by more I mean more goal-scoring, not more penalties.
- The Stars defense should be more intentional with their passing and breakouts.
- Bad referees calling bad penalties make for bad results.
Below is the schedule for the Stanley Cup Final series between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Saturday September 26, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST
Monday September 28, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST
Wednesday September 30, 2020 @ 8:00pm EST