A 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals is usually a death sentence for the team that has to win three in a row. It hasn’t been since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 that a team has overcome that deficit (the Leafs were actually down 3-0 in that series) and won the Stanley Cup. For the Tampa Bay Lightning it’s all about finishing what they started.
What can’t happen for the Bolts in game five is looking ahead. The Stanley Cup has been looming over the ice since game one and the Lightning can not afford to find themselves distracted by it tonight. They have a job to finish and it isn’t going to get done without their ability to do what they’ve done all postseason long.
They have to match Dallas’ intensity stride for stride. This Stars team is going to be angry and frustrated over last night and they are fighting for their lives in this series. The Lightning have faced some incredibly difficult and demanding games in each series but none of them will come anywhere close to this one.
The fourth win is always the hardest, right? None are harder than the fourth win in a finals. The ever elusive sixteenth playoff win for Jon Cooper and this group of players, most of which were on his 2015 Stanley Cup Finals team that lost three straight games to the Chicago Blackhawks after being up 2-1. They’ve seen a team rise from the ashes before and they know the fight is coming.
It’s worth noting that the Lightning are now 10-0 in the postseason when Brayden Point scores a goal. That’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it. Is it enough to earn him the Conn Smythe should the Lightning win tonight? Even more mind-blowing is the answer to that question – maybe not. That’s how good the Bolts have been. They have a player with a postseason league high thirteen goals and he may not even be the Conn Smythe favorite. You look at the postseason Victor Hedman has had and think he could be the guy. Nikita Kucherov has quietly had an absolutely incredible postseason.
The Lightning will once again be without their captain Steven Stamkos who is “unfit to play” but the Stars have some players missing on their side. Ben Bishop, Blake Comeau, and Roope Hintz are all “unfit to play” as well.
Then there’s the matter of officiating. The Lightning had not one, but two high sticks to the face as well as a crosscheck to the neck courtesy of the Dallas Stars last night that all went uncalled. And yet, somehow, had an embellishment call go against Brayden Point after Corey Perry decided to take his twig to Point’s berries. However, in the overtime, it was Jamie Benn who rightfully had a minor penalty called on him for his trip/interference/tackling of Tyler Johnson that led to the power play goal by Kevin Shattenkirk to win the game. In his postgame interview, Joe Pavelski said that Benn “breathed on him,” and it was a penalty.
Don’t think for one minute that the mindset of these Dallas Stars isn’t influenced by what happened in that overtime. They are going to come out fast, physical, and dirty to set the tone and literally fight their way back into this series. It doesn’t matter that the Lightning have had just one more power play than the Stars in this series. It doesn’t matter that the Stars have scored on just one power play while the Lightning are 6-for-15 in the series. The Stars – and their fanbase – view this as “the Lightning and the refs against us” and it will fuel them tonight.
Here it is. A chance to end it all, reach the pinnacle of the hockey world, and get out of the bubble and go see their families. It’s all on the Lightning to close this thing out tonight and the Stars will do absolutely everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t more nerve-wracking, exciting, or entertaining than this.
Let’s go, boys.
Game Five Information
Date: September 26, 2020
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta
TV Broadcast: NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN
Radio Broadcast: 970 WFLA
Live Stream: Watch Here