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Lightning Round: “It was an amazing experience”

Steven Stamkos, the captain, leads the team to a 2-1 series lead

Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There are certain goals that you know will follow players for the rest of their life. For Vincent Lecavalier it was the between the legs goal against Montreal in 2004. Marty St. Louis’ double-overtime winner against Calgary. Nikita Kucherov’s fake-shot against Buffalo.

For Steven Stamkos, his goal against Dallas in the first period of Game Three on Wednesday night will be on his personal highlight reel for the rest of his days. It was a typical Stamkos goal, enough speed to elude a check and pinpoint placement to beat a goaltender who has stopped more than his fair share of shots this postseason.

It’s not only the fact that he scored a Stanley Cup goal (the first of his career), but he did it after a brutal six-plus months of rehab and setbacks, of doubt and uncertainty.

As usual he downplayed his achievement after the game,

“It was just an amazing experience to share with my teammates. There’s been a lot of hard work and different things going on behind the scenes....I was just happy to contribute in a game I didn’t play too much,”

Coach Cooper was a little more effusive with his praise,

“You just marvel at players. He only had five shifts, but as efficient of five shifts you’re ever going to see in a National Hockey League playoff game...Here we are watching a player come back and do what he did in the biggest stage in the biggest time of the year....It was pretty d—n cool.”

Who knows what happens over the next two-to-four games. Maybe the Lightning close it out quickly, maybe the Stars battle back. No matter what happens Lightning fans have a tremendous moment to remember forever.

The Game

It wasn’t just Stamkos who scored, all of the big guns contributed with Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman scoring. Hardev had the recap [Raw Charge]

Lightning players now hold the top three spots in NHL playoff goal scoring. Brayden Point leads with 11 goals in 20 games, with Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat tied for second with 10 goals in 22 games each. Nikita Kucherov has been the playmaking beneficiary of all that offense with a playoff-leading 23 assists and 31 points in 22 games played.

An awful second period doomed the Dallas Stars in a key game. They controlled play for the second part of the first period, but an early power play goal for the Lightning put the game out of reach. A recap from the other side of the ice. [Defending Big D]

Shortly afterwards, Yanni Gourde was called for interference, putting Dallas back on the power play. Tyler Seguin had a Grade-A opportunity up front early on but couldn’t find the back of the net, and Dallas ultimately failed to score on the power play. With about a minute left, Ondrej Palat made it five goals for Tampa Bay

I think the boys were happy for the captain.

Victor Hedman remains good at hockey - post-season edition

Nikita Kucherov also remains good at hockey - post-season editio

Lightning Stories

It’s not shocking that Brandon Morrow would pick the Stars over the Lightning, right? He spent way more time in Dallas than he did in Tampa. He’s one of the few players to go to a Stanley Cup Final with both franchises. [NHL.com]

“I know Tampa players differently than I know Dallas players. I’ve played with probably 12-15 of the Tampa players, so that is different,” Morrow said.

“But I’m still rooting for Dallas. That’s my team.”

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Brayden Point’s contract. That was a good day. [Raw Charge]

You literally can’t calculate the monetary value he’s providing in the playoffs (mainly because we don’t know how much of the bonus pool they’ll be splitting). Statistically it’s a little easier to appreciate what he’s done. If we want to keep it simple (which is how I always like to keep things), so far he’s missed two games and the Lightning have lost both of them. Ergo, he’s quite important.

Evgeni Nabokov had a brief career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it coincided with the beginning of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s NHL career. Nabokov has also had a profound influence on Anton Khudobin. A look at how the revered Russian goaltender has helped both netminders currently battling for the Stanley Cup (and Conn Smythe trophy). [Times-Herald]

“I got to know him really well and his work ethic is unbelievable,” Nabokov said. “The way he works off ice is unreal. He’s so professional, so mature, back in the day even, five years ago. A lot of kids are talented, but not a lot of kids have talent, the body, and the flexibility and the reaction (time) and the athleticism.

“Usually you have one or two things, but when you have four or five, that’s what makes you special. He’s a special goalie.”

Speaking of goaltenders it was 28 years ago that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play Manon Rheaume suited up for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game against the St. Louis Blues.

JustinG. jumped on a podcast yesterday to chat about the Lightning. He gives answers to the questions that keep us up at night. Is Alex Killorn having a disappointing postseason? When did he think Steven Stamkos would return (hint, it wasn’t last night)? Can the Interim Managing Editor find a way to mention any Lightning players from the 1998-2002 era? Like Coach Cooper likes to say, “You have to tune in to find out”. [Jablam Sports on Spotify]

Around the league

Traaaaaaadddddeeee? Or maybe not. Pittsburgh General Manager Jim Rutherford continues his trading spree by dealing veteran forward Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for 26-year-old defenseman Mike Mathenson. Or did he? Seems like there is a bit of a “snag” in the deal. The hold-up is either Hornqvist, who has a no-trade clause, not being notified yet or some insurance issues in regards to the contracts. If the deal goes through is it even a good one for the Penguins? [Pennsburgh]

There’s a lot to unpack here. Matheson, a left hand shot defenseman and 26 years old, has six more seasons remaining on a $4,875,000 cap hit. His advanced metrics are not the greatest thing you’ve ever seen coming from a weak Florida Panthers team.

Craig Anderson will be joining a large group of veteran goaltenders looking for jobs this off-season. Despite playing very well for a bad Ottawa Senators, it looks like he won’t be back next season. Currently their goaltending depth chart consists of Anders Nilsson and Marcus Hogberg, but with a bevy of first and second round picks (along with cap space) could they be in a market for acquiring someone via trade? [Bruce Garrrioch Twitter]

World Cup 2020! It’s not a thing, but that’s not going to stop the staff at The Athletic putting together some imaginary Canadian and American rosters for the tournament that gave us the bright shooting star that was too beautiful to live: Team North America. [The Athletic - subscription required]

Lightning players that made the cut:

Brayden Point - Team Canada

Anthony Cirelli - Team North America

Canes Country sat down and spoke with Hurricanes.com Senior Editor Michael Smith about life in the Toronto bubble. Smith details the daily routine from testing to game preparations and also about how reporting on a team is different in the Age of Covid. [Canes Country]

“I think we can all agree that as media people, we all probably miss that, because that’s where the best stories come from,” Smith said. “You don’t get any ground-breaking, great stories from just talking to someone on Zoom with 20 other people. Just the daily routine of going into the locker room and having casual chats and seeing what comes of them is probably something that I miss and that changes the way we do our jobs. There’s just certain things we can’t do now.”

Black Girl Hockey Club, one of the leading advocates for inclusion of Black women and BIPOC communities in the sport of hockey, announced their Get Uncomfortable campaign on Wednesday. [BlackGirlHockeyClub.org]

Undoubtedly these conversations are difficult, as they can challenge one’s perspectives and approach to our roles in hockey and society at large. But progress is rarely easy, and often requires being open minded and vulnerable, and making a genuine commitment to improve one’s impact on others. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that ALL members of our community can truly enjoy hockey – the greatest sport in the world. To get there, though, we may need you to Get Uncomfortable.