If the Lightning’s overtime Game 4 win wasn’t enough for hockey fans on Friday, the Stars one-upped that effort a night later, staying alive with a 3-2 double-overtime Game 5 win on Saturday.
Beyond “the 2019-20 season not being over,” what did we learn from the Stars’ double-OT Game 5 win? Let’s consider three takeaways from a dizzying contest. Game 6 (Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC) isn’t that far away during a 2020 Stanley Cup Final already brimming with twists and turns.
Not that long ago, there were worries about Tyler Seguin’s playoff production. Maybe he just needed a change of pace?
Whatever the explanation might be, the difference is stark.
- Seguin previously suffered through a five-game pointless streak. More troublingly, he only had an assist in an 11-game stretch from Aug. 30 (midway through the Avalanche series) through Sept. 23 (Game 3 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final).
- While the Stars lost Game 4, Seguin and Perry were factors. Seguin collected two assists in what would turn out to be a prelude.
Perry scored two huge goals (the Stars’ first and last of Game 5), while Seguin generated assists on all three Stars goals in Game 5.
Yes, it’s true that it would be tough to sustain this scoring pace. But it’s not all luck. Via Natural Stat Trick, Seguin, Perry, and Joel Kiviranta generated seven high-danger chances for and only allowed one against at even-strength in Game 5.
2. Putting the whistles away?
No doubt about it, officiating was a talking point from Game 4 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. After some serious griping from the Stars regarding the Jamie Benn penalty that opened up an opportunity for the power-play game-winner by Kevin Shattenkirk, would there be a chilling effect on officiating?
Well, that can be a chicken-and-the-egg argument.
Frankly, officials tend to put away their whistles more often as a series goes along. Especially when a team is facing elimination. Maybe it’s not as bad as the Dead Puck Era, but it’s still something.
Whether it was inevitable or a reaction to complaints, the lack of calls sometimes got a little comical.
To be clear, both the Stars and Lightning had reason to complain about non-calls. You could probably argue that Dallas actually experienced some of the most prominent flubs.
Big-picture, though? If I were Rick Bowness, I’d be grinning ear-to-ear that there were only three power plays in Game 5 (one for the Lightning, two for the Stars). Tampa Bay’s power play was red-hot, and for all the adjustments you can make in the film room, you know what’s the best way to stop it? Not let them go on the man advantage at all.
Again, the Stars will almost certainly gripe about individual calls, but a low-penalty style behooves them.
3. The Lightning’s top line remains terrifying
By certain underlying metrics, the Stars controlled the Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov line about as well as one can expect in Game 5.
But, frankly, there were enough close calls that it would be foolish to think the Stars really found a lasting answer.
Ondrej Palat scored a significant 1-1 goal with a great move. Brayden Point assisted on both Lightning goals, including an impressive entry on Mikhail Sergachev‘s 2-1 tally.
Both Point and Nikita Kucherov found space for near-goals during the overtime period(s), too. They didn’t land the knockout blow in Game 5 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, but Anton Khudobin and Stars defenders still have their work cut out for them.
(Especially if the Lightning get more than one power play in Game 6 (Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC).
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 3-2)
Stars 4, Lightning 1. (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2. (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 2. (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 4 [OT]. (recap)
Stars 3, Lightning 2 [double OT].
Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.