Stamkos scores, Tampa Bay up 2­1

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PAGE 2 - By Stephen Whyno

ED­MON­TON, Al­berta — Steven Stamkos scored on his first shot since Fe­bru­ary, left with in­jury and the Tampa Bay Light­ning kept dom­i­nat­ing without him, blow­ing the Dal­las Stars out of an empty arena with a 5­2 rout in Game 3 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals on Wed­nes­day night to take the lead in the se­ries.

Even though he skated only five shifts for 2:47, the Tampa Bay cap­tain — mak­ing his 2020 play­off de­but 211 days af­ter he last played in an NHL game — gave the Light­ning a jolt. He made the most of that time with a vin­tage Stamkos goal go­ing around Esa Lin­dell and snip­ing a shot past An­ton Khu­dobin.

Stamkos rev­eled in mak­ing an im­pact in a game, some­thing he thought wasn’t pos­si­ble a month ago.

“You want to have a say and you want to con­trib­ute,” Stamkos said. “To be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true.”

Stamkos skated off gin­gerly at the end of his fi­nal shift in the first pe­riod and was not on the bench for the start of the sec­ond. He re­turned to the bench and took a few twirls to test out the in­jury but did not re­turn.

The Light­ning were just fine with Stamkos of­fer­ing moral sup­port sit­ting in the mid­dle of the bench.

They got goals from all three of their first­line for­wards, their top de­fense­man and their cap­tain, and big saves from their Vez­ina Tro­phy fi­nal­ist goal­tender. Mean­while, the Stars’ best play­ers were quiet once again or made big mis­takes to con­trib­ute to the loss. Nikita Kucherov, Stamkos, Vic­tor Hed­man, Bray­den Point and On­drej Palat all scored for Tampa Bay. An­drei Vasilevski­y made a few big saves among his 31, in­clud­ing a bril­liant left pad stop on Corey Perry early in the game.

Game 4 is Fri­day night.

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