(East Los Angeles, CA) September 25, 2020 [From The Editor’s Desk]: And here we go! To one the biggest sports stages in our world today, the NHL’s most glorious moment—the much awaited, Stanley Cup Finals, taking place during the dreaded COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Who could have thought this would be the scenario for all of our U.S professional and other major sporting events. Nonetheless, the games must go on, and here we are, ready to bring you Game #3 between the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars. The first two games were split, with Dallas winning the opener, (4-1). Game 2 saw Tampa Bay win a close (3-2) battle, and now you can read for yourself the result of Game #3. Game#4 takes place tonight in Edmonton and the puck drops at 5 pm, PST. Fans can watch it on ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS. To see more about the Finals, on the NHL website, click here.
And now the critical Game 3 as reported by our correspondent, Joe Perry.
Stamkos’ Return Electrifies Lightning In Big Win.
The main question going into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals was: “Is Steven Stamkos going to play?” The answer, excitingly, was yes. Stamkos is the Tampa Bay Lightning captain and one of the best players in the NHL, who was injured seven months ago in February and hadn’t played a game since. But when he took the ice on Wednesday night, tensions were higher than ever before.
Story Photos Courtesy: unsplash.com
(1st Period): The first goal of the night went to the Lightning. A giveaway to Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov. He received the puck accidentally after Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen tripped while heading into the neutral zone. Heiskanen had it on his forehand, then tried to switch to backhand when pressured by Lightning winger Ondrej Palát, but Heiskanen sent the puck sputtering toward the middle where Kucherov gobbled it up and headed toward net all alone. Kucherov didn’t need to do anything fancy, he just waited for Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin to slide out of net, and once he did, Kucherov snuck it past him, low and outside. Kucherov was good at dishing the puck in Game 2, and now proved good for a score in Game 3.
The Lightning made it (2-0) with a hot goal from Stamkos. He only played a few minutes in the first period, but his only shot on goal went in. It started with a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone from the opposite end of the Blue Line. Very nifty. Stamkos was flying in and tapped a perfect one-touch to himself. Then, with the space he created, he sped toward the net and fired top shelf where the puck found the back of the net. His teammates jumped for joy. This wasn’t just any goal – it was a goal by their captain who finally made his return. The shot came from such a sharp angle where nobody should’ve been able to find that corner, but Stamkos is a real deft goal-scorer, able to pick that far side.
The first goal for Dallas came while they were short-handed, and they hoped it would turn things around. A shot turned aside by Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy from Stars forward Roope Hintz went toward the side boards. Hintz followed and quickly backhanded it out to the slot before the puck got pinned to the boards. He outbattled both Kucherov and Brayden Point. Another Stars forward in the form of Jason Dickinson appeared, waiting for a slap shot. He hit it short-side, extremely top shelf. Vasilevskiy was off his angle, and there was lots of room for the puck to find its way home. At the end of the 1st period, the score was (2-1) in favor of the Lightning.
(2nd Period): Only a minute into the period, Tampa Bay scored to make it (3-1). Dallas offenseman and NHL veteran Joe Pavelski won the face-off in their defensive zone, but pesky Palát dug it out from the boards in a scrum with a few others. Palát slipped out to the mid-slot where fellow Lightning player Anthony Cirelli dove and tapped it further out to Victor Hedman, the assistant captain, who slapped it home. A low side-winder that blew right by Khudobin. This was the kind of goal where the Stars needed to clear the zone, especially after a face-off win.
Then the Lightning started to pour it on. A turnover from Dallas as they tried to dump into the offensive zone found many of their players leaving the ice, and the Lightning flung another cross-ice Blue Line-to-Blue Line pass to start an odd man rush, a deadly 3 on 1. A great, unselfish pass from Kucherov to Lightning counterpart Point gave him the opportunity to bury it for a goal. Point scored, and left Khudobin with a face full of shaved ice.
Tampa Bay went on to make it (5-1) after a long shift for the Stars who defensively were sputtering out. Dallas just couldn’t clear the puck after almost a 2-minute onslaught from Tampa. After a few shots, Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk flung the puck in front of net just to see what would happen, and a lucky rebound left the puck right there for Point who flung it on again. Khudobin with another stop by his leg pad, yet another rebound, and Palát found it next. He was able to stuff it home due in part to Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell’s exhaustion. Lindell couldn’t manage to box out Palát.
At the end of the 2nd period, Dallas head coach Rick Bowness tapped the rookie goaltender Jake Oettinger on the shoulder. The kid would be replacing Khudobin for the 3rd period sad get some Stanley Cup Finals experience.
(3rd Period): The Stars second goal of the night came from Dickinson who won the puck off the wall after a good Dallas forecheck. The puck squeaked out to fellow teammate Andrew Cogliano who entered a give-and-go with Pavelski. Pavelski backhanded a chip pass across the slot with lots of bodies headed toward net. Heiskanen ultimately was the one who found the puck and tried chopping it across his body on net. Vasilevskiy flailed and saved it off his blocker, but the puck popped up and over his head onto his back. Then it bounced down into the net after Tampa Bay’s Shattenkirk tried to clear it but whiffed the puck into the mass of players who collectively nudged it in.
Dallas’s goal was too little too late. Pavelski knew it, and with 2 minutes left in the game, he cross-checked his unsuspecting former San Jose Sharks teammate Patrick Maroon at mid-ice and sent him crumpling to the ground. Pavelski was sending a message – that the Stars weren’t going down in this finals series without a fight. Alas, the night ended in a (5-2) victory for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but expect the rest of this series to get chippy, folks.
[About Our Correspondent]: Joe Perry is our new Sports Correspondent and Cinema-TV, and Entertainment Columnist for East L.A. Sports Scene. He was born in New Jersey and raised by two public school teachers who loved taking him on World tours. He is a recent June, MFA graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Program in Film & TV Production. Duly noted here, while growing-up, Joe was a huge fan of the New Jersey Devils. He is now covering the re-start of the National Hockey League, (NHL) and the Stanley Cup Finals.