The Lightning almost watched a 3-0 lead evaporate before their eyes, but they did enough to beat the Stars 3-2 in Game 3, tying the 2020 Stanley Cup Final 1-1.
From here, the two teams approach Game 3 (Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN – livestream) with the 2020 Stanley Cup Final series looking like a coin flip.
Lightning win Game 2 of 2020 Stanley Cup Final thanks to strong start vs. Stars
Back in Game 1, the Lightning failed to score during a busy third period, but they put a lot of pressure on Anton Khudobin.
This time around, the Lightning broke through. Tampa Bay received three consecutive power-play opportunities to begin Game 2, and chasing in with PPG played a big role in taking that crucial 3-0 first-period lead.
Nikita Kucherov sent tremendous passes to Brayden Point (1-0 PPG) and Ondrej Palat (2-0 PPG) to set up those first two goals. Considering the bumps and bruises Kucherov already was dealing with, it’s impressive that he managed that after painful falls like these:
We’re not that deep into the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, yet the Stars and Lightning are already building up some serious bad feelings. Things boiled over more than once in Game 2, including after Ryan McDonagh ended Blake Comeau‘s night early with a bone-rattling hit.
Chalk it up to sitting on a lead or the Stars unleashing the hounds, but either way, Dallas made a serious push to get back into this one. The Stars managed an 18-5 shots on goal advantage during the second period, a frame where there stream of penalties turned into a geyser. Joe Pavelski‘s nice tip for a PPG gave the Stars a shot, and then Mattias Janmark cut the Lightning lead to 3-2 early in the third thanks to a tremendous feed by John Klingberg.
Anton Khudobin’s been getting a lot of attention, yet Andrei Vasilevskiy has been strong during these 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was sharp when he needed to be on Monday.
Once the Lightning’s lead diminished to 3-2, it seemed like they rose to the task. The Lightning actually managed a significant third-period SOG advantage (12-5), even though the Stars was trying to get back into Game 2.
Mikhail Sergachev seemed to score a 4-2 insurance goal, but a successful offside review pushed it back to 3-2.
That didn’t end up being a turning point in Game 2, as the Lightning shut the door against the Stars, tying the 2020 Stanley Cup Final 1-1.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)
Game 1: Stars 4, Lightning 1. (recap)
Game 2: Lightning 3, Stars 2.
Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*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.