Stamkos returns as Lightning edits Stars with win in Game 3

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EDMONTON – After seven months sitting on the shelf, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos returned for the Stanley Cup final on Wednesday – albeit very briefly – and scored on his first shot at the net.

Stamkos, out since Feb. 25 to recover from abdominal muscle surgery and a lower body injury, scored 2-0 in under seven minutes as the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 in of Game 3 at Rogers Place.

The Lightning leads the best of seven series 2-1.

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Game 4 is scheduled for Friday and Game 5 just 24 hours after Saturday night.

“It was just an amazing experience to share with my teammates… just to be able to be in a game and have an impact on a game that a month ago might never have been possible,” said Stamkos, of Markham, Ontario.

“I was just very happy to contribute to a game in which I didn’t play too much. ”

Stamkos, the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner at 30 as the league goalscoring leader, played on the fourth row with Cedric Paquette and Pat Maroon.

He took a cross pass from defenseman Victor Hedman and, with a speed boost, slid through a small gap between the boards and Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell, stole and shot a wrist from the top shelf. of the right face-off circle. opposite side on Stars goalkeeper Anton Khudobin.

And that was it.

Stamkos played 2:47 in the first half, stayed in the dressing room until the end of the second and didn’t leave the bench for the rest of the game, staying to cheer on his teammates.

The NHL is not releasing injury information and Stamkos declined to comment on what made him stay off the ice for the remainder of the game.

“I wanted to play as much as I could. Obviously, there is an issue that I have been working on. We will see what happens from here, ”he said.

Hedman scored two assists. Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point also scored for Tampa Bay.

Kucherov also got an assist and continues to lead all playoff scorers with seven goals and 30 points.

Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 21 shots for his 16th playoff win.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Finals, stream all 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff games live, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

After Stamkos scored, the Tampa bench erupted into cheers that rang out across empty Rogers Place. The playoff matches are played without spectators to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“It was amazing to have (Stamkos) back on the ice,” said Hedman.

“You can see the reaction on the ice and on our bench when he scored that goal. That’s all that matters to us as a teammate, as a leader and as a friend. Super happy for him. ”

Jason Dickinson and Miro Heiskanen answered for Dallas. Khudobin refused 24 of 29 shots and was replaced by Jake Oettinger for the start of the third period when the score was 5-1. Khudobin is 13-8 in the 2020 post-season.

Dallas defenseman John Klingberg, when asked about the lift Stamkos gave the Tampa bench, said: “It’s the Stanley Cup final. We all play with emotion.

“We got on our heels a bit in the second period. We’re just going to pick up that momentum in the next game, attack them and even the series. ”

Kucherov opened the scoring when Heiskanen lost the puck on his own blue line. Kucherov jumped on it and fired a low missile blocker on a breakaway.

Dallas joined the board before the end of the period. Roope Hintz stole the puck in Tampa’s volley and handed it to Dickinson for a short-distance stopwatch from the top of the left face-off circle.

Tampa took control in earnest in the second period, edging Dallas 21-4 and adding three more goals.

Hedman scored on the power play, shooting from the lunge into traffic. Kucherov then fed a Point streak on a 3-1 for Point’s 11th goal in the playoffs. Palat then folded up the puck in a goal-mouth scrum.

In the third period, Dallas went 5-2 as the puck rebounded from a scrimmage in the mouth of the goal. Heiskanen got credit.

Stamkos is in his 12th season with the Lightning. He produced 29 goals and 66 points in the regular season, which was interrupted on March 12 due to the spread of COVID-19.



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