Stamkos scores, Tampa Bay up 21
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.