Stamkos charges up play­off push

Light­ning su­per­star’s health, scor­ing have pow­ered Tampa Bay this post-sea­son

StarMetro Calgary - - SPORTS - Sa­man­tha Pell We have full de­tails from last night’s Caps-Light­ning Game 4 tilt at thes­tar.com/sports

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.

JULIE JA­COB­SON/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Stamkos had five power-play goals in 13 play­off games head­ing into Thurs­day’s Game 4 against the Cap­i­tals.

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