Stamkos’ Game 5 breakout just an extra for Lightning offense

steven stamkos
Getty Images

Brayden Point this and Nikita Kucherov that and Steven Stamkos is suddenly the undercard of the Lightning offense.

One win away from going back to the Stanley Cup Final to defend their title, and everything has clicked for Tampa Bay. Point is in the midst of an eight-game scoring streak. Kucherov, after missing the entire regular season, leads all players in playoff points.

So it’s reasonable Stamkos hasn’t been the top-billed narrative, and it’s reasonable his lack of production before Game 5 hasn’t been questioned severely.

The Lightning star center, who missed the end of the regular season with injury, scored twice in Tampa’s 8-0 thrashing of the Islanders in Game 5. That win put them ahead in the series 3-2, on a night where everything clicked throughout the lineup.

Stamkos’ first goal started the onslaught, coming just 45 seconds into the contest. That, as it turned out, would be the game winner, even seven tallies later.

Those were his first two tallies in a Stanley Cup Semifinal where the Lightning haven’t needed him to produce. The aforementioned Point and Kucherov have done plenty of that.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

In fact, right before Game 5, there were questions of how healthy the 31-year-old was. He played just 2:44 of even-strength minutes in the third period of the Game 4 loss. His line of himself, Alex Killorn, and Anthony Cirelli hadn’t tallied a single five-on-five point. He himself had just five shots on goal in the first four contests of the series before getting five looks on net in Game 5 alone.

Asked post game about his health, and Stamkos’ answer wasn’t exactly reassuring.

“Um, good enough to play,” Stamkos said. “It’s the most fun part of the year. It’s just great to be back with these guys during this run. Big game tonight, so looking for a response.”

Game 5 alleviated some of those concerns, and it didn’t take long with the quick strike in the first period. Perhaps that’s what he needed, with less personal pressure. The rout was the perfect spot for the Lightning to work out any of their few flaws ahead of a potential series-clinching game.

Before the current round, Stamkos had been a point-per-game player in the playoffs, scoring seven goals and 10 assists in 16 games, even if the majority of them (11) have come on the power play.

The Lightning have proven they don’t need every part of their offense clicking to win games. One night it’ll be Kucherov defying logic, and every night, apparently, Point is worth a goal.

Perhaps Stamkos is playing through something. Perhaps it’s what cost him the end of the regular season. Maybe Game 5 won’t awaken him for the rest of the postseason, even. The Lightning continue to find ways to produce regardless, though.

Stamkos coming alive is just another possible element in the Lightning’s path back to the Cup Final. They don’t need him to be 2011-esque Stamkos, not with their offensive depth; a resurgence doesn’t hurt, though.

ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (TB leads 3-2) – series livestream link

Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
Game 5: Lightning 8, Islanders 0
Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)

*if necessary

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

Scroll Down For:

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
    2 Comments

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    austonmatthews
    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.