If the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to win the Stanley Cup on Saturday night they are going to have to win one more game without Steven Stamkos.
Coach Jon Cooper announced on Saturday that the Lightning captain will not be available for Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, Livestream) against the Dallas Stars.
Stamkos has played in just one game this postseason for the Lightning as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury and a core muscle injury that sidelined him in late February.
His lone appearance this postseason was the Lightning’s Game 3 win when he played just a little under three minutes, scoring a goal on his only shot of the game.
He spent the final 47 minutes of the Lightning’s 5-2 win seated on the bench.
On Friday, Cooper announced that Stamkos would not play in Game 4 (which the Lightning won in overtime, 5-4) but that they were not ruling him out for the rest of the series.
If the Lightning win on Saturday night, they will win the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history and for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
The Lightning’s top line of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat has helped drive the offense in Stamkos’ absence, while they have also received massive contributions from their newly formed second line and their defense.
They are 17-6 in the Return To Play, with 16 of those wins coming without Stamkos in the lineup.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 3-1)
Stars 4, Lightning 1. (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2. (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 2. (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 4 [OT]. (recap)
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