EDMONTON, Alberta — Steven Stamkos scored on his first shot since February, left with injury and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept dominating without him, blowing the Dallas Stars out of an empty arena with a 5-2 rout in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night to take the lead in the series.
Even though he only skated five shifts for 2:47, the Lightning captain making his 2020 playoff debut 211 days after he last played in an NHL game gave the Lightning a jolt. He made the most of that time with a vintage Stamkos goal going around Esa Lindell and sniping a shot past Anton Khudobin.
“We were really excited,” forward Alex Killorn said. “He told us he was ready, he comes out, gets a shot on net and scores a goal. It really elevated our team. So happy for him to be back and be a part of this.”
The game was everything that has made Tampa Bay one of the best teams in hockey for more than half of the last decade. That included the return of Stamkos, the Lightning’s leader who has been forced to watch while rehabbing a core muscle injury.