Kevin Shattenkirk, take a bow! The 31-year-old defenseman, who is getting paid $6 million to not play for the New York Rangers, scored the 5-4 overtime winner to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. And with Game 5 set to get underway at 8:00pm on Saturday evening, the Bolts could be hoisting the Cup outside Amalie Arena before the weekend is even up.
This heart-wrenching, stress-suffocating Game 4 was a back and forth affair that once again saw the Lightning win despite surrendering the game-opening goal. The Bolts were down 0-2 in the first period, but back-to-back goals from Brayden Point got the team back on track at the end of the first and into the second, with Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn providing offense from the middle six to get the Bolts ahead in the third.
Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin carried the Stars in the second half of the game, with Pavelski scoring two goals and Seguin providing two major primary assists to force overtime. In the extra frame, the Lightning had to kill off a 4-on-3 power play partially due to a questionable embellishment call on Point before Shattenkirk put the game away with a snipe from the wing on a power play for the Lightning.
Neither Andrei Vasilevskiy nor Anton Khudobin had a good night in net. Both were swimming all night long, It’ll be really interesting to see what the goalie match-up will be in Game 5, perhaps we’ll get to see big Ben Bishop in net?
The Lightning came out of the box with a much better first five minutes than the Stars. The play was almost exclusively in the neutral and offensive zone for Tampa Bay. The biggest chance came from the stick of Tyler Johnson, who got two whacks at a puck right in front of the net but couldn’t bury it past Anton Khudobin. Jan Rutta also had a couple shots, one of which hit Jason Dickinson in the foot, forcing him to leave the game for a few minutes. Dickinson scored twice in the first three games of the series, he could have three but one was taken away from him in Game 3 and given to Miro Heiskanen.
John Klingberg got a fluky goal past Vasilevskiy on the team’s first shot on net nearly eight minutes into the game. Hedman blocked the initial shot off the rush from Klingberg, but the rebound came right back to him. Vasilevskiy was set for the initial shot but couldn’t get across after the changed angle. The Sportsnet broadcast explained how Hedman needed to go for the body and smother Klingberg rather than look for the puck. Unfortunately, that’s how the Lightning choose to play and it works well, but the odds just didn’t live with them on this goal.
On the Stars’ third shot of the game, Joe Pavelski beat Vasilevskiy on a partial 2-on-1 created when Jamie Benn forced Jan Rutta out wide, opening a pocket for Pavelski to skate into. Hedman took himself out of the play early trying to stop the rush at the blueline (another tactic the Lightning purposefully do to keep the puck high) but it didn’t work and Alex Killorn wasn’t back in time to support.
Brayden Point! Is there anything to say here other than the best player in the playoffs brought his team to within shouting distance right at the end of the first period.
Hate to say it, but the Lightning were twice as good as the Stars in the first period, but two fluky goals put them behind after 20 minutes. The Bolts had nearly twice as many shot attempts as the Stars (19-10) and it was over double if you include the power play. Shots were 8-3, the Lightning were in the offensive zone constantly, and yet they were down.
Over the intermission, the Sportsnet broadcast showed video of a adolescent Point (still with full eyebrows) as he was interviewed in the WHL. It was very cute.
Point scored his 13th goal of the playoffs and second of the game on the power play after a great pass from behind the net by Alex Killorn. Killorn had the puck at the side of the net, but circled around to the other side and got two defensemen to chase him, opening Point for the one-timer.
Wait, one-timer How about a home run swing.
Dallas took the lead back after a great solo effort from seemingly invisible star Tyler Seguin. He broke free of Carter Verhaeghe and got around Mikhail Sergachev before trying to slip the puck around Vasilevskiy and into the net. The puck instead slid out away from the net before hitting Vasilevskiy’s pad, allowing Corey Perry to charge into it almost by accident. It was another frustrating goal that Vasilevskiy probably shouldn’t have attacked so aggressively. If he had just stayed in his net and not given the space behind him, the puck probably would never have gotten free.
Finally, some luck coming Tampa Bay’s way! The power play saved the day again with their second goal of the game, this time off the stick of Yanni Gourde. Nikita Kucherov got the initial shot off from the far wing, but it got blocked early and found its way to Gourde in the high slot. His one-timer beat Khudobin easily, tying the game for a second time. Kucherov got the primary assist, his 25th assist of the playoffs, an unreal number.
The Lightning were second in shot attempt share in the second period (13-18), but made up for their lack of volume with quality. They were ahead in scoring chances (7-4) and had the better expected goals share (55%) compared to the Stars. The offensive shot map was just a much bigger blue blob in front of the Stars net, a great sign.
The period was going pretty well for the Lightning, Verhaeghe had a pretty good chance on a wrap-a-round on Khudobin, but the score was still tied. The entire Bolts fanbase gave an audible shriek when they saw the puck trickle behind Vasilevskiy off that shot from Joel Kiviranta.
Killer! Alex Killorn put the Bolts ahead with a quick spinning shot that found the top corner past Khudobin. This was Tampa Bay’s first lead of the game and it came halfway through the third period. The hope was that the team could turtle and hold the lead, but we all know what happened on the next Stars power play...
Pavelski technically got this goal but it initially looked like Seguin got his first goal of the Finals. Even though he’s on the enemy side, the narrative that he was underperforming in the playoffs is a misconception. He got two primary assists in this game and both came in key moments.
As regulation wound down, and as stress eating commenced across Lightning nation (my choice: cookies) , Brayden Point got an “embellishment” penalty for having Perry’s stick between his legs. The call was questionable at best, flat out wrong at worst. Just because it’s the end of the game doesn’t mean a penalty needs to be “evened out.”
Within half a minute of the overtime, Mikhail Sergachev got called for a hold on Seguin (no embellishment). The Bolts had to cover a minute down against a 4-on-3 power play and then got Point back on the ice and finished the final minute at 5-on-4. Overall, it was a really strong penalty kill, especially the pair of clearings with only three killers on the ice.
The Lightning got their own power play a few minutes later and
OH MY GOD! KEVIN SHATTENKIRK! POWER PLAY GAME WINNER! IN OVERTIME! THE LIGHTNING CAN WIN THE SERIES ON SATURDAY!
- The Lightning scored three times on the power play with goals from both units. They used the man advantage to get themselves back into a game they honestly had no business being down in after 20 minutes and made the most of their chances, especially in the overtime after a gutsy and mature kill to start the extra frame.
- Brayden Point’s two goals were massive for the team, he has 13 in the playoffs now and now sits two behind Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin for most goals in a single playoffs since the turn of the millennium. Both have 15, with Mark Scheifele, Logan Couture, Evgeni Malkin, and Joe Pavelski the active players tied at 14. A hat trick tomorrow gives him the record, just saying.
- I’ll admit it, Vasilevskiy looked really shaky in this game. He was sprawling for pucks much more than he usually does. He took himself out of the play too many times, despite knowing his flexibility means he doesn’t need to extend as far to make the same stops. He only faced three shots in the first, which must be hard for goalies, and I will commend him for really shutting his net down as the game drew to a close. The Lightning will need a better game tomorrow if they’re going to win this series quickly. I don’t expect Curtis McElhinney to play.
- Steven Stamkos: Best Captain