The Tampa Bay Lightning have another chance to win the Stanley Cup on Monday night when they take on the Dallas Stars in Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, LiveStream) of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
The Stars were able to extend the series on Saturday night with a double overtime thriller in Game 5 that was capped off with Corey Pery’s overtime winner.
Will they be able to keep the series going one more game?
Or will the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history and for the first time since the 2003-04 season?
We find out tonight.
Here are the three keys to watch for going into Game 6 on Monday.
It really is pretty simple for the Stars right now. Stay out of the penalty box, give yourself a chance. Keep taking penalties, watch the Lightning skate around with the Stanley Cup.
The Stars were penalized just one time in their Game 5 win on Saturday, a major shift from what we saw from them in Games 2-4 of the series when early penalty troubles helped put them in a hole they could not climb out of.
The Lightning power play is too dangerous to keep putting on the ice, and that is especially true for the Stars right now as they are still dealing with injuries to three of their top penalty killing forwards (Radek Faksa, Blake Comeau, Roope Hintz). The Lightning still have the superior talent throughout their lineup, but if the Stars can keep things 5-on-5 it certainly increases their chances of tying things.
Even though the Lightning have controlled the possession, scoring chances, and expected goal numbers, the Stars actually have a slight 12-10 goals advantage during 5-on-5 play in the series.
Special teams have been the difference on the scoreboard.
The Stars’ top line was under the microscope earlier due to their scoring slump.
Seguin in particular was having a difficult stretch as he was in the middle of a 12-game stretch where he recorded just a single a point (an assist in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final).
He still has not scored a goal in 14 consecutive games, but he has started to make a far more noticeable impact over the past two games of the Stanley Cup Final. It is during that stretch that he has an assist on five of the Stars’ eight goals, including each of Joe Pavelski‘s game-tying goals in the third period to send each game to overtime.
The Stars are getting some big contributions right now from Pavelski and Corey Perry, but getting something from their top players (including Seguin and Jamie Benn) would be a really significant boost.
3. Lightning top line
They are one of the keys to the game because they are quite simply a key to every game this postseason.
Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point are both leading the Conn Smythe race, while Ondrej Palat has been a perfect complement to the superstar duo.
When that trio is on the ice during 5-on-5 play in this series the Lightning are controlling more than 70 percent of the total shot attempts and have outscored Dallas by a 6-3 margin in just over 71 minutes of hockey, and it has not mattered who the Stars have tried to use against them in an effort to slow them down.
No one has been able to do it.
Just as no one on any team has been able to do it this postseason.
Point is tied for the league lead in playoff goal scoring.
Kucherov is leading the league in total points and has at least one point in 18 of the Lightning’s 24 games, including nine multi-point games.
At least one of those two has been on the ice for 48 of the Lightning’s 77 goals (62 percent!) this postseason, while the two of them have been on the ice together for 37 of those goals (48 percent), while they have also posted dominant shot and possession numbers.
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)
Lighting 5, Stars 4 [OT] (recap)
Stars 3, Lightning 2 [2OT] (recap)
Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.