Sports Minute: Lightning up 2-0 on Stars, 20 minutes from Stanley Cup
By STEPHEN WHYNOAP Hockey Writer
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Dallas Stars 2-0 after two periods in Game 6 of the final Monday night and are 20 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup.
The a're on the verge of the second championship in franchise history in almost a poetic display of what got them to this point. New star Brayden Point scored a power-play goal in the first with assists from longtime standouts Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, key trade deadline addition Blake Coleman killed a penalty and scored on an odd-man rush in the second, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy did his job in net.
Tampa Bay is outshooting Dallas 22-8 after two and looks poised to finish the job against a worn down opponent missing five regular players.
The Stars also continue to hurt themselves with penalties. Miro Heiksanen was in the box for Point’s goal. The Stars took two penalties in the first 12 minutes and three total in Game 6 after committing just one in Game 5. And the Lightning's power play is making them pay.
Tampa Bay is 7 of 15 on the power play over the past five games after an 0-for-14 drought dating to the Eastern Conference final.
Point's goal from Kucherov and Hedman 12:23 into the game was a tour de force from indisputably the Lightning's three best skaters in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay had 11 of the first 12 shots Monday night, and nine of them came at 5-on-5. Dallas got its own power play at the end of the first, failing to score in the first 1:24 before the intermission.
Tampa Bay made two lineup changes after its Game 5 loss, with defenseman Zach Bogosian returning and replacing Jan Rutta and forward Alexander Volkov going in for Carter Verhaeghe. It's Volkov's career playoff debut and first NHL game since Feb. 13, bringing fresh legs to the Lightning in the third game in four nights.
Veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera played for the Stars two nights after blocking a shot and missing a period and a half before returning. Banged-up Dallas has already lost forwards Roope Hintz, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Lightning played again without injured captain Steven Stamkos, who was ruled out of the series Sunday. Stamkos' entire contribution this postseason was limited to 2:37 in Game 3 when he scored a goal before aggravating his injury.
“He did everything he could to get back and he did get back and unfortunately he couldn’t go any further,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Hopefully the next time you see him on the ice is during a trophy presentation.”
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