Return of Reaves adds more grit to Vegas-Dallas West final

EDMONTON, Alberta — Ryan Reaves stood in the tunnel outside the locker room, fist-bumping his Vegas teammates as they marched to the ice.

Instead of skates, pads and a jersey, his uniform was made up of jeans, a sweater over top of a button-down shirt and dress shoes.

Reaves then took his spot in the stands, mask on, to watch the start of the Western Conference final. With Reaves suspended for an illegal check to the head last round, the Vegas Golden Knights lost Game 1 to the Dallas Stars in the kind of all-out, physical game that fits his style perfectly.

Coach Peter DeBoer insists missing Reaves wasn’t the reason his team lost, but getting the 6-foot-2, 225-pound enforcer back for Game 2 Tuesday is exactly what Vegas needs against a difficult Dallas opponent in a rough and tumble series.

”Having him back, he’s an important part of our team,” DeBoer said Monday. ”Everyone knows what Ryan Reaves brings. He brings physicality, but he brings energy to our group, too, and he creates a certain amount of room for people on the ice. He’s a big piece of our group.”

Even while not excusing Reaves for the hit to the head of Vancouver’s Tyler Motte that drew the one-game suspension, DeBoer defended him for having a clean record and showing an incredible amount of restraint for a player of his size. Reaves has only taken two minor penalties this postseason and is well-respected by teammates for being willing to stand up for them.

But Reaves didn’t earn a full-time lineup spot two years after being a part-timer during the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Final just because he’s an intimidating presence. He’s averaging five hits a game, many of which are important for Vegas to get into its style of game.

”Ryan brings a lot to our team: a lot of energy, a lot of juice for us,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said ”Obviously he’s physical, and they’re a heavier team, so having him back in the lineup’s going to be a huge bonus for us and a lot more energy coming from him. If he can get in the forecheck, get some hits, it’s big momentum for our team.”

Reaves will fit right in against the Stars, who dished out 49 hits and absorbed 47 in winning Game 1 Sunday 1-0. Dallas put up a lot of goals last round against Colorado, but its preferred brand of hockey is tight-checking, defensive and predicated on punishing opponents with heavy and frequent contact.

”It’s just fun,” Stars forward Jason Dickinson said. ”I think we’ve got a lot of big guys that play with a lot of edge and a lot of intensity that in order for them to play at their best, they have to be hitting and they have to be on the body because it creates energy for themselves and a little bit more emotion, which often elevates other elements of your game.”

That’s a perfect descriptor for Reaves, though he’s not going to turn the series around by himself. An added benefit: Getting him back might lead DeBoer to start Game 2 with his fourth line so that Vegas can dictate the physical play.

So far, that edge goes to the Stars, who are plenty ready to keep it up all series.

”They’re going to take hits and eventually, that’s going to wear them down,” coach Rick Bowness said. ”It’s another series that has very, very little separating the teams. A puck bounce here or there is going to decide it.”

Bubble crankiness ratchets up the nasty for Stars-Lightning

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Pat Maroon shot a puck into the Dallas bench, nailing an opponent in the face. Victor Hedman tripped Corey Perry before a faceoff. Perry put Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette into a headlock before getting flipped over.

The dislike is building quickly for the Stars and Lightning in this Stanley Cup Final, which is knotted at 1-1 going into Wednesday night’s game. While nastiness typically develops in a lot of series this deep in the playoffs, it’s happening even earlier in this one because players have grown cranky after eight weeks in the NHL bubble.

They are taking it out on the ice.

”That would probably play a big part of it,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. ”The things that you normally do to relax between games, whether it’s going out for dinner with your wife or go for a drive or going to the driving range to hit golf balls – anything you can do to relax between games is not there, so everyone’s a little edgy.”

The championship will ultimately be decided by which team can dictate its game to the other in what has become a best three out of five series. Those extra pushes, shoves and facewashes are part of it – and they only ratchet up the intensity, even without fans to cheer or boo it all.

”It seems like in this setting with no fans, it’s even more competitive out there with just you and the other team,” Dallas forward Andrew Cogliano said. ”Both teams are going to fight for every inch. As the series goes on, it’s just going to get more competitive.”

It’s competitive and chippy after the teams split the first two games and combined for 50 penalty minutes. Fourteen of those belong to Maroon, who got a 10-minute misconduct for flipping a puck into the bench and two minutes for roughing it up with Jamie Oleksiak in Game 1, then another two in Game 2 for running Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin.

”You know what happened,” Maroon said when asked about the puck incident. Stars veteran Joe Pavelski wasn’t thrilled the puck hit rookie Joel Kiviranta in the face, but said the referees handled it.

”That’s all you can do,” Pavelski said. ”It doesn’t take us off our game.”

After Maroon ran into Khudobin and incited a skirmish that qualifies as modern hockey’s line brawl, it was clear he has not endeared himself to the Stars.

”Why’s Maroon still out there?” a Dallas player yelled, easily heard in the empty arena. ”Put him in the box already!”

By the time Maroon, Hedman and Paquette got to the box, it was so crowded all three couldn’t sit down. Each team wants to avoid unnecessary penalties like that, but players know what’s at stake and they are not surprised by all the post-whistle extracurriculars.

”You’re not trying to give anyone an inch out there,” Tampa Bay center Anthony Cirelli said. ”You’re trying to finish every check when you can, it’s going to be physical, the emotions are going to be high. I think that’s just what comes with the entire playoffs, and that’s what playoff hockey is all about.”

This is also playoff hockey in the most unnatural of circumstances. As Bowness pointed out, players and coaches usually would be able to clear their minds and blow off steam between games.

That’s not possible right now.

”You’re just finding other ways,” Bowness said. ”The grind, the Groundhog Day, that is tough, and the normal things you would do to help you relax are just not there, so you adapt.”

Most players started this postseason healthy, and of course the injuries built up, but the struggle the Stars and Lightning are enduring right now is as much mental as anything. And it’s different playing playoff games without the usual transition from an 82-game regular season.

”The teams are so good that what separates you sometimes is whoever wants it more,” Cogliano said. ”Physically and mentally, it’s hard, but that’s the point at this time of the year and that’s the point of playing in the playoffs. It’s supposed to be hard and you have to enjoy it and want to be out there.”

Dallas played this style of game throughout the first three rounds, ousting high-scoring Colorado and Vegas along the way. Tampa Bay, after adding Maroon in free agency and Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman in trades, isn’t just a skill team and is more than happy to mix it up.

”I think we have some skill, we have some speed and we also bring that physical aspect to the game,” Cirelli said. ”But we’re not trying to be goons out there. We’re trying to win hockey games.”

The Wraparound: Lightning look to build off Game 2 win vs. Stars

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Final game with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• A look at how the Lightning built one of the best lines in the playoffs.

• Bob Bougher has been named head coach of the Sharks. He held the interim role after Peter DeBoer’s dismissal in December.

WEDNESDAY’S STANLEY CUP FINAL GAME

Game 3: Stars vs. Lightning (Series tied 1-1) – 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream): Tampa scored three goals in the first 15:16 minutes of the game, including two on the power play, and held off a late push by Dallas to win 3-2 and even the Stanley Cup Final at 1 game apiece. Brayden Point opened the scoring by netting his 10th of the postseason and Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk each scored to give the Lightning a three-goal lead they would not relinquish.

Tampa’s power play was 0-for-14 in their previous four games and scored once in 18 opportunities before Point and Palat scored 2:59 apart in the first period. The Stars helped the Lightning power play wake up by taking three penalties in the opening 13 minutes of the game.

“That’s where we lost the game today,” Stars forward Mattias Janmark said after Game 1. “We don’t want to take penalties. We have taken way too many throughout the playoffs, but then I think when we get them, we’ve just got to go out and kill them, and we didn’t manage to do that today, and I think that’s where they won the game, so we’ve got to do a better job there.”

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Tyler Seguin, who is making his third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, has struggled mightily in the 2020 playoffs. The 28- year-old has gone 11 consecutive games without a goal and has just one assist over that span. His last goal came in Game 3 of the Second Round vs. the Avalanche. He went 17 straight games during the regular season without scoring from Dec. 29 – Feb. 11.

“Feel like I’m playing a lot better as of late,” he said. “Definitely looking for that one bounce, but good things are happening when you’re getting chances and that’s the way you look at it.”

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)

Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
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

*if necessary

Lightning-Stars stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Lightning and Stars. Pre-game coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Lightning-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Tampa scored three goals in the first 15:16 minutes of the game, including two on the power play, and held off a late push by Dallas to win 3-2 and even the Stanley Cup Final at one game apiece. Brayden Point opened the scoring by netting his 10th of the postseason and Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk each scored to give the Lightning a three-goal lead they would not relinquish.

Since the beginning of their First Round series against Columbus, the Lightning are a perfect 5-0 following a loss this postseason. Tampa last lost consecutive games on March 8th and 10th – its final two games before the pause. Andrei Vasilevskiy has not lost consecutive starts since dropping three straight from Feb. 20-25.

After going 0/14 on the power play in their previous four games, the Lightning scored twice on the man-advantage in Game 2, with both tallies coming in the first period. Point and Palat scored power-play goals 2:59 apart in the first period in the win. Dallas took three penalties in the first 14 minutes of play and the Lightning were able to take control by scoring twice.

Tyler Seguin, who is making his third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, has struggled mightily in the 2020 playoffs. The 28- year-old has gone 11 consecutive games without a goal and has just one assist over that span. His last goal came in Game 3 of the Second Round vs. Colorado.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Wednesday, September 23, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Lightning-Stars stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)

Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
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
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

NHL schedule for 2020 Stanley Cup Final

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Saturday, Sept. 19 in the hub city of Edmonton. Now that we are through the conference finals, the full 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule has been announced.  

The top four teams during the regular season in both conferences played a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The eight winners of the best-of-5 Qualifying Round advanced to the First Round.  

Rogers Place in Edmonton will host 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final.  

Here is the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule.

2020 STANLEY CUP FINAL (Rogers Place – Edmonton)

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)

Game 1: Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Game 2: Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
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
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

CONFERENCE FINAL RESULTS

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
Lightning beat Islanders (4-2)

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
Stars beat Golden Knights (4-1)

***

SECOND ROUND RESULTS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Lightning beat Bruins (4-1)
Islanders beat Flyers (4-3)

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Golden Knights beat Canucks (4-3)
Stars beat Avalanche (4-3)

***

NHL QUALIFYING ROUND / ROUND-ROBIN RESULTS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Philadelphia Flyers (3-0-0, 6 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0, 4 points)
Washington Capitals (1-1-1, 3 points)
Boston Bruins (0-3-0, 0 points)

Canadiens beat Penguins (3-1)
Hurricanes beat Rangers (3-0)
Islanders beat Panthers (3-1)
Blue Jackets beat Maple Leafs (3-2)

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Vegas Golden Knights (3-0-0, 6 points)
Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0, 4 points)
Dallas Stars (1-2-0, 2 points)
St. Louis Blues (0-2-1, 1 point)

Blackhawks beat Oilers (3-1)
Coyotes beat Predators (3-1)
Canucks beat Wild (3-1)
Flames beat Jets (3-1)

***

FIRST ROUND RESULTS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Flyers beat Canadiens (4-2)
Lightning beat Blue Jackets (4-1)
Islanders beat Capitals (4-1)
Bruins beat Hurricanes (4-1)

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Golden Knights beat Blackhawks (4-1)
Avalanche beat Coyotes (4-1)
Stars beat Flames (4-2)
Canucks beat Blues (4-2)