Tampa Bay’s sputtering power play sparked back to life Monday, powering the Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in the NHL Stanley Cup final.
The victory ties the best-of-seven series at one game apiece, with Game 3 set for Wednesday at Rogers Place.
Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat had goals on the man advantage as the Lightning scored three times in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Kevin Shattenkirk also scored, while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27-of-29 shots for his 15th victory of the playoffs, including the seeding round.
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Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark, with his first of the playoffs, replied for Dallas. Goaltender Anton Khudobin turned aside 28 shots in the loss. His post-season record drops to 13-7.
Tampa forward Nikita Kucherov, the leading point getter in the playoffs, and defenceman Victor Hedman had the assists on both power-play goals.
At 11:23, Kucherov was the middle man in a tic-tac-toe passing play, taking a pass from Hedman and redirecting the puck into the slot area to Point, who then wristed it through traffic and high glove side past Khudobin.
Three minutes later, on a second power play, Kucherov, at the right face-off circle, faked a one-timer shot off a Hedman pass, freezing Khudobin, and instead slap-passed it cross-seam to Palat, who had a wide open net and didn’t miss.
Less than a minute after that, Shattenkirk scored on a blue-line wrist shot through traffic.
Tampa’s power play was ranked fifth in the NHL in the regular season at 23.1 per cent but in the playoffs, heading into Monday’s game, had been spluttering along at 16.9 per cent and mired in an 0 for 14 slump.
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Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 14-6 in the first period but was outshot 18-5 in the second frame as the Stars found renewed life.
The Stars hit the scoreboard late in the period when a fluttering John Klingberg point shot was redirected in by Pavelski while he battled with defender Ryan McDonagh in front of Vasilevskiy.
Pavelski, signed as a free agent a year ago after 13 seasons with San Jose, has a team-leading 10 playoff goals.
Less than six minutes into the third, the Stars made it 3-2 on a tic-tac-toe play of their own — Alexander Radulov to Klingberg to Janmark, who tapped the puck in despite Shattenkirk being draped all over him.
It was a rough game with big hits and numerous post-whistle scrums and takedowns.
Late in the second period, the Stars’ Corey Perry had Lightning forward Cedric Paquette in a post-whistle head lock. He released him at the direction of the refs only to see Paquette turn on him, throw him to the ice and start raining down punches.
Stars forward Blake Comeau was levelled by McDonagh on an open-ice hit in the second period and didn’t return.
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