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Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars preview: Can they sweep the back-to-back?

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This will be the turning point of the series.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars: ROUND 4, GAME 4

Time: 8:00pm Eastern Time

Location: Rogers Place

Broadcast/Streaming: NBC, SN, TVA-S, CBC

Opponent SBNation Site: Defending Big D

Preview:

The Lightning are two wins away from the Stanley Cup, but their toughest test of the playoffs lies in their way: the final back-to-back. They can’t think about it that way, though. Their first priority has to be to win Game 4, and after a really strong performance from the entire team, it’s clear the Lightning have the momentum in the series right now.

Tampa Bay has done an excellent job of shutting down Dallas’ top line offensively — Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are pointless through three games and Alexander Radulov took two costly penalties and left the game early after a collision. It’s something that has to continue if they want to eventually win this series.

Obviously the legendary return of Steven Stamkos overshadowed a lot of the Bolts’ success last game, but it was obvious that he didn’t return to play at 100%. Whether or not he dresses tonight remains to be seen, but it might be within the Lightning’s best interests to rest him in this game and, if he’s able to, play him tomorrow.

If Stamkos can’t play tonight, we’d likely see Carter Verhaeghe draw back in — Jon Cooper explained that it was more difficult to go 11-7 against a faster team like the Stars, though they managed to successfully do it last game after Stamkos was stapled to the bench.

The one concerning area of Game 3 was the ten-minute(ish) stretch of the first period where the Lightning got completely caved in after taking a 2-0 lead. The team was lucky the Stars only scored once, and they can’t let it happen again.

Tampa Bay has only played one other back-to-back in these playoffs, which they swept against the Boston Bruins two rounds ago. But Dallas is a different beast, and they definitely won’t go away quietly. The Lightning are going to need their best players to show up again, and if they do, they’ll hopefully have a chance to clinch on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman

Cedric Paquette - Patrick Maroon - Steven Stamkos ?

Alexander Volkov, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Verhaeghe

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Dallas Stars

Forwards

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov

Andrew CoglianoJason DickinsonNick Caamano

Joel KivirantaJustin DowlingCorey Perry

Injured: Blake Comeau

Defense Pairs

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen

Joel HanleyAndrej Sekera

Goaltenders

Anton Khudobin

Jake Oettinger