Stamkos charges up playoff push
Lightning superstar’s health, scoring have powered Tampa Bay this post-season
WASHINGTON—Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was alone in the left circle during the first period of Tuesday night’s Game 3 when he collected a pass from defenceman Victor Hedman and rocketed a onetimer past Washington Capitals’ defender Matt Niskanen and goalie Braden Holtby to give the Lighting a 1-0 lead.
It was perfectly executed — an unstoppable, momentum-changing shot.
With Tampa facing a potential 3-0 series deficit in the Eastern Conference final, the Lightning needed a jolt — and it came in the form of an early goal by its captain. The Lightning rode that flash of energy from Stamkos’s power-play goal for the remainder of Game 3, en route to a 4-2 victory at Capital One Arena in Washington.
The teams faced off in Game 4 on Thursday night.
“When he shoots it like that — he’s done it for so long and scored so many goals from there — I think it is hard to cover him,” Tampa forward J.T. Miller said of Stamkos. “You have Kuch (Nikita Kucherov) on the other side of him doing the same thing for the most part so it is definitely a threat our power play possess.”
“Think of Kucherov and Stamkos, those guys leading the charge, when we’ve needed them in the big games,” added Tampa coach Jon Cooper. “So say Game 4 in the Boston series, Game 4 in the Jersey series, Game 3 in the Washington series, those guys have delivered when we’ve needed them. Often times, that’s what those guys do. They come in when you need them.”
Stamkos had five powerplay goals in 13 playoff games heading into Thursday’s Game 4, including one in each of the past three games against Washington. He had six total goals and nine assists in these playoffs after scoring 27 goals and 59 assists in the regular season. It was a bounce-back performance for the veteran player, after missing nearly all of the 2016-17 campaign due to injury.
Stamkos had five power-play goals in 13 playoff games heading into Thursday’s Game 4 against the Capitals.