The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars have to be exhausted. Saturday featured their third game in four days and their second overtime contest in as many nights. But the show will go on. The Dallas Stars earned a 3-2 double overtime victory to force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final.
It was a back-and-forth game, with the Lightning establishing a 2-1 lead early in the third period before Joe Pavelski evened the contest at 13:15 of the third frame. That marker made Pavelski the all-time playoff leader in goals among US-born players with 61. It makes you think of how many times Pavelski has been on teams with serious Stanley Cup aspirations that fell short. The near misses Pavelski endured when his Sharks lost in the 2010 Western Conference Final and then again in the 2011 Western Conference Final. He even made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final with San Jose in 2016, but ultimately lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Will history repeat itself? Or will Pavelski, who now has 160 postseason games on his resume, finally lift the Stanley Cup? Although the Dallas Stars are in a position to ice largely the same team again in 2020-21, there’s no guarantee that they can repeat this success and at the age of 36, Pavelski doesn’t have a lot of seasons left in him. It’s not exaggeration to say this could be his best remaining chance to win the Cup.
Tampa Bay has every reason to be hungry for the Cup too though. This is a tremendous team coming off a bitter first round exit in 2019 and playing with the knowledge that because of the stagnant salary cap, the front office is going to have to make tough decisions after these playoffs. They narrowly missed their chance to raise the Cup Saturday night, but the luxury of establishing a 3-1 series lead is that they’ve got multiple chances to make it happen.
The Stars and Lightning will get a merciful rest on Sunday before playing again Monday night.
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DALLAS STARS 3 TAMPA BAY 2 (2OT) (Lightning lead series 3-2)
Corey Perry scored the game’s first goal and the double overtime winner. He’s up to five goals and nine points in 26 playoff games.
Tyler Seguin assisted on all three Stars goals. He has two goals and 13 points in 25 playoff contests.
Mikhail Sergachev found the back of the net for Tampa Bay. That gives him three goals and 10 points in 24 postseason games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 33 Stars shots. He has a 1.97 GAA and .925 save percentage in 24 playoff contests.
Anton Khudobin turned aside 39 of 42 shots last night. He improved to a 2.72 GAA and .917 save percentage in 24 postseason contests.
The busiest players on Saturday were Stars defensemen John Klingberg and Esa Lindell, who logged 38:16 and 38:13 minutes respectively. Victor Hedman led all Lightning players with 36:28 minutes on the ice.