Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Lightning overpowered the Dallas Stars with their offensive prowess in the last two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
In Game 3, the Lightning were victorious behind a five-goal outburst that was helped along by the return of Steven Stamkos. The Eastern Conference champion is now the overwhelming favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup in Edmonton, Alberta.
Dallas is not out of the series yet, but it needs to find a way to match Tampa Bay’s presence in front of net to be competitive for the rest of the final.
Stanley Cup Final Schedule
Game 4: Friday, September 25 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)
Game 5: Saturday, September 26 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)
Game 6: Monday, September 28 (8 p.m. ET NBC)*
Game 7: Wednesday, September 30 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)*
* if necessary
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tampa Bay (-175; bet $175 to win $100)
Dallas (+148; bet $100 to win $148)
To Win Series
Tampa Bay (-560)
Even though Tampa Bay holds a 9-8 advantage in goals scored, it has been much more active in front of the net.
The Lightning have 99 shots on goal compared to 73 by Dallas, and their top players have been constant fixtures on the scoresheet.
In Game 3, Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring, and Stamkos followed with his first goal of the postseason in the opening stanza.
Victor Hedman contributed an assist on Stamkos’ tally and Brayden Point’s second-period goal. The defenseman also scored his 10th postseason goal to extend his team’s lead in the second.
Hedman and Kucherov combined for nine points in the first three games, while none of Dallas’ players have more than three points.
Additionally, the Lightning possess three players with nine or more shots on goal. The highest total on Dallas’ roster is eight from Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
Of those three players, Hintz is the only one with points. He has two assists, while Benn and Seguin have been scoreless.
Earlier in the postseason, the Stars were able to go back-and-forth in the scoring column with opponents. They had five or more goals on seven occasions against Calgary and Colorado.
Since then, the highest total recorded by Rick Bowness’ team was four goals in the Game 1 win over the Lightning.
The Stars will not be able to grind out low-scoring results against Tampa Bay like they did against Vegas.
That means Dallas needs to receive more production from its top forwards to match the high level set by Kucherov, Hedman and others.
It may be hard to match the number of attempts sent in by the Lightning, but if the Stars can at least improve on the 24.3 shots on goal per game, they can claw back into the series.
Tampa Bay was up 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders, but it had some trouble closing out the series.
The Islanders put up five goals on the Lightning in Game 3 and forced them into three overtime periods in Games 5 and 6.
If the Stars are even more accurate with their shots in the direction of Andrei Vasilevskiy, they could extend the series and make it last six or seven games.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.
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