The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge.
Kevin Shattenkirk’s overtime goal on the power play lifted the Lightning to a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Friday night, and more importantly sealed a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the Lightning’s sixth power-play goal of the series.
Brayden Point was the offensive engine, scoring twice, while Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn also struck for the Lightning, who took advantage of a rare subpar performance from Stars netminder Anton Khudobin.
Joe Pavelski countered with two goals for Dallas.
The situation is obviously dire for the Stars, who need to digest a difficult loss in a hurry because the two teams will reconvene for Game 5 on the second half of a back-to-back.
The first-ever Stanley Cup won in a bubble could be captured as early as Saturday night.
It wasn’t too long ago that there was serious concern over whether Brayden Point could still be a factor in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now he might have stuck his nose in front of Victor Hedman in the Conn Smythe Trophy race.
Point was absolutely spectacular in Game 4, scoring two immensely-skilled goals in two completely different ways.
The first was all about speed. With a mad dash through neutral ice, Point was sprung into the offensive zone from the final feed on a brilliant team breakout, and the three-part deke he placed on Khudobin was straight out the Mighty Ducks movie franchise.
Brayden Point with the filthy finish off the feed from Ondrej Palat pic.twitter.com/9KZLqIOMM1— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 26, 2020
Point’s second goal was far less complex, but he showcased another one of his plus skills, knocking a fluttering puck out of mid-air and dropping it into the back of the net.
Brayden Point scores his second of the game with some sweet hand-eye pic.twitter.com/TH4QK9Utrj— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 26, 2020
It’s now a postseason-high 13 goals and 30 points in the playoffs for Point. While Hedman might still have the edge in the Conn Smythe Trophy race, a vote for the play-driving centre wouldn’t be wrong.
Neither is this:
Brayden Point is next level pic.twitter.com/8XFqVCSk4w— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) September 26, 2020
The other 91
While Steven Stamkos was the first No. 91 to have his say in the series, Tyler Seguin finally did have an impact in Game 4. And it might have been, in part, because the coaching staff was through with resting its hopes on his turnaround.
Rick Bowness didn’t just bust out the blender, he brought the entire food processor to Game 4, using multiple combinations and scattering his forwards across his lineup. It felt like it was a decision that had everything to do with Seguin’s goal-scoring drought, and he seemed to heed to the call, delivering one of his best performances in several weeks.
Twice, it appeared initially that Seguin had ended his drought (and we still might be convinced that he deserved the goal on this brilliant individual rush), but instead his breakthrough was limited to merely a primary assist. Then to start the overtime period, he busted into the offensive zone with intent again, this time drawing a penalty that would set up a 4-on-3 opportunity with a chance to win the game.
He had a few looks himself with the late-game advantage, but it was the Lightning, of course, that had the special teams moment that would count, keeping Seguin frustrated.
As much as the Stars will die on the hill that it was a bad call, and maybe under normal circumstances they’re right: it would be ignored. But at that point it was clear that the referees were going to be involved in this game.
And for that reason alone, Jamie Benn’s decision to haul down Tyler Johnson with a dangerous and unnecessary slew-foot was a terrible one.
Context is important here. The officiating team had just called the Lightning for a minor penalty to start overtime, and only just made an awful error before the end of regulation, determining that Point had embellished a clear and horrendous hook from Corey Perry in an unforgivable area on the human anatomy.
There’s a time to take liberties and a time to take caution, and Benn misread the situation, and it cost his team.
Not the Moose
It didn’t quite reach the Mark Messier standard when John Klingberg said, ‘we’re going to even the series Friday” in his postgame remarks after the Stars’ loss in Game 3, but the talented defender did at least step up to the plate with his modest guarantee hanging in the balance.
Klingberg opened the scoring in Game 4 with a total solo venture into the offensive zone, and with the first recorded shot in the contest for the Stars.
There was certainly an element of fortune on the sequence for Klingberg, as the puck settled perfectly after his first attempt was blocked. But credit to Klingberg for staying with it, for enterprising in the first place, and at least trying to come through with that promise.
Even if it failed.
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