The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Stanley Cup Finals two games to one and have a chance to end the series before the end of the weekend. However, the Dallas Stars have other plans – and are the only team in the 2020 postseason to escape this kind of situation.
There have been twelve 2-1 series deficits in the playoffs this year. Teams that held that 2-1 lead are have gone on to win that series eleven of the twelve times. That one loss? Dallas coming back to beat the Calgary Flames.
The Stars also haven’t lost three straight games since the end of the regular season. Now, I realize that’s apples to oranges at this stage with the pause and bubble play, but the Stars have been a team that has faced adversity in this postseason and bounced back. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten to this point.
The Lightning were in this exact situation in 2015. They lost game one, came back to win games two and three, then lost the next three as well as the series to the Chicago Blackhawks. They know the kind of fight they are in for tonight against the Stars.
The Stars are going to come out looking to set the pace and tone early. They will be rough, physical, and lay out as many hits as possible to not only assert their style of play but to take Tampa Bay out of their comfort zone fast. The Stars, despite the final score, had some golden opportunities in game three throughout the first period. They know they can generate offense, take the puck away, and get the Lightning back on their heels.
For the Lightning, the game plan is simple: do what you’ve done the last two games. You know Dallas is going to take runs at players, you know they want to dominate puck possession. It’s all about smart, disciplined play and capitalizing on the opportunities you create. The Lightning have done an incredible job on their forecheck and it has resulted in extra possessions and high danger chances.
Victor Hedman, in my opinion, is the Conn Smythe favorite for the Lightning. Not only is he the best defenseman in the NHL but he’s put on an offensive clinic in this postseason. He will need to step up yet again as the team’s leader with Steven Stamkos deemed unfit to play in this one. No, Stamkos didn’t play much on Wednesday, but the emotional and mental impact he had for his teammates can’t be overlooked. They won’t have that boost tonight and the Stars will look to take advantage.
The first ten minutes of this game will say a lot about who is going to control the night. The Stars are in a situation where they have to play their best hockey of the year or face an elimination game tomorrow. The Lightning have the chance to demoralize a dangerous Stars team and take advantage of the back-to-back situation with against a goalie that has played well but not well enough thus far.
Game Four Information
Date: September 25, 2020
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta
TV Broadcast: NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN
Radio Broadcast: 970 WFLA
Live Stream: Stream Here