Stanley Cup Final Game 4 takeaways: Controversial ending puts Lightning one win away


Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was a back-and-forth battle with no shortage of lead changes or thrilling moments. Ultimately, there was also no shortage of controversies in the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s 5-4 overtime win over the Dallas Stars. The win gives the Lightning a commanding 3-1 lead, just one win away from the sport’s ultimate prize.

Miss any of the game? We’re here with the top takeaways as we look ahead to Game 5 on Saturday.

More: Click here for the entire Stanley Cup Final schedule.

Stanley Cup Final Game 4 in 10 words or less

Brutal officiating tarnishes the best game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Player of the game: Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

While Kevin Shattenkirk had the overtime game-winner, it was Point’s two goals that rallied the Lightning from a 2-0 deficit to the Stars and got them back in the game. He played 20:39 for the game, and both of his goals were brilliant individual efforts: a breakaway goal late in the first period and a “bunt” on the power play in the second.

What worked for Tampa Bay?

Special teams. The Lightning used the man advantage to their advantage in Game 4, tying the game twice and eventually winning it on the power play. Brayden Point’s goal at 2:08 of the second period tied the game at 2-2. Yanni Gourde‘s goal at 18:54 of the second tied the game 3-3. Kevin Shattenkirk’s goal at 6:34 of overtime won the game. Meanwhile, the Lightning didn’t allow a power-play goal to Dallas, including on a 4-on-3 power play in overtime.

“We’ve capitalized in the past. We failed to do so tonight,” said Dallas forward Joe Pavelski.

What didn’t work for Dallas?

The defense. The Stars made the Stanley Cup Final for two primary reasons: Their resiliency, and their ability to shut down their opponent when necessary. They had the first part of that formula in Game 4, starting strong with two goals after losing Game 3 and then rallying to tie the game in the third period to send it to overtime. But defensively, this is the third straight game where the Lightning scored three or more goals. While the Stars played some wild series earlier in the postseason, they eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights and won the West on the strength of their defense and goaltending, allowing three goals against just once in five games. Goalie Anton Khudobin, the hero of that series, now has an .863 save percentage in his last three games.

“We’ll bounce back. I have full faith in our hockey club,” said Dallas coach Rick Bowness.

The goals

Dallas 1-0: John Klingberg (Esa Lindell), 7:17, first period

The Stars got the scoring started early on a nice second effort by Klingberg for his fourth of the playoffs. His initial shot was blocked by Jan Rutta, but Klingberg stayed with it and snapped it past a surprised Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning goalie has given up a couple of these in the playoffs, including Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak getting his own rebound in Game 1.

Dallas 2-0: Joe Pavelski (Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov), 18:28, first period

Rick Bowness refreshed his lines for Game 4, and the new top line immediately paid dividends. Radulov collected the puck in the defensive zone, sprung Benn down the left wing in the neutral zone, and the captain sent a perfect lead pass to a streaking Pavelski for his 11th goal of the playoffs, which leads the Stars. This line barely saw the ice together in the regular season, but clicked here.

Tampa Bay 2-1: Brayden Point (Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk), 2:08, second period

The Lightning got new life when Dallas fell asleep late in the period. Shattenkirk sent a long bounce pass to Palat in the neutral zone, who led a speed-skating Point — who hit a top speed of 24 mph, per the broadcast — on a breakaway, beating Khudobin for his 12th of the playoffs with just 33 seconds left in the period.

Tampa Bay 2-2: Brayden Point (Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov), 2:08, second period, power play

With apologies to the Rays, the best bunt by a Tampa player this September was Brayden Point scoring his 13th goal of the playoffs. Killorn tried to pass the puck to the point from in back of the Dallas net, it was deflected into the air and Point smacked it into the net with his stick. The low-key best part of this goal: The referee miming a bunt to show Benn that it was a good goal.

Dallas 3-2: Corey Perry (Tyler Seguin and Mattias Janmark), 8:26, second period

After his former linemates connected for a goal with their new partner, Seguin created a goal for his new line. With a burst of speed, he got past the Lightning defense but was tied up to prevent a shot. As he was falling to the ice, Seguin managed to send the puck back off the post and into the crease. Perry crashed the net, as Corey Perry does, and forced home the rebound while being careful not to kick it in. It was his third goal of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay 3-3: Yanni Gourde (Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev), 18:54, second period, power play

The Lightning got another boost from their torrid power play. Kucherov tried to feed Patrick Maroon in front, but the puck was deflected … right to Gourde, who fired home the rebound for his seventh goal of the playoffs. This was the third goal of the game with a member of the top line involved for Tampa. The Lightning power play was on a 5-for-11 run with this goal.

Tampa Bay 4-3: Alex Killorn (Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli), 6:41, third period

The Lightning had scored in a variety of ways against Khudobin in Game 4, but this was the first one that truly felt like it was on the Dallas goalie to stop. Killorn went behind the net and won a battle with defenseman Esa Lindell. He spun and flung a puck at Khudobin, and it went top shelf over the netminder.

Dallas 4-4: Joe Pavelski (Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen), 11:35, third period

Both the Stars and the Lightning spoke with Pavelski when he was a free agent last summer for a specific reason: The veteran forward’s reputation as a postseason hero. Dallas won his hand, giving him a three-year deal for exactly this kind of “by any means necessary” goal in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. Pavelski flung the puck at the Lightning crease, it deflected off of Kevin Shattenkirk and into the net to tie the game in the third period. With this goal, his 12th of the playoffs and 60th of his career, Pavelski tied Joe Mullen for the most goals by an American-born player in Stanley Cup Playoffs history.

Tampa Bay 5-4: Kevin Shattenkirk (Victor Hedman and Patrick Maroon), 6:34, overtime, power play

After a controversial penalty on Jamie Benn (see below), Shattenkirk scored on the power play, shooting the puck through a screen from Maroon past Khudobin for the overtime winner. Two players acquired in the offseason by Tampa, coming through. And some redemption for Shattenkirk after that Pavelski goal to tie the game bounced off of him. This goal pushed the Lightning to a current 6-for-12 streak on the power play.

Controversy of the night

Jamie Benn was called for tripping Tyler Johnson at 5:10 of overtime, with referee Francis Charron claiming that Benn kicked the skates out from under Johnson. Replays clearly showed that was not the case. Tampa converted on the power play to win Game 4. “Jamie breathes on him and the guy falls over,” said Pavelski. “It’s unfortunate.”

Crash of the night

Tough one here for Roope Hintz. Tyler Johnson tried to swat the puck away and then dropped his stick. Hintz stepped on it, and then crashed hard into the boards to end his night. Some felt that Johnson also forced Hintz’ head into the boards. Bowness wasn’t happy, that’s for sure.

Corey Perry moment of the night

This hook to the undercarriage by Corey Perry on Brayden Point was whistled for a penalty at 19:31 of the third period. But Point was given a minor penalty for embellishment — an absurd call that was rightfully called out for pundits on both side of the borders. This led to a 4-on-3 Dallas power play in overtime after a holding penalty on Sergachev, but the Stars couldn’t convert.

Celebration of the night

Lot of ups and downs when it comes to Corey Perry. Here’s his son watching from afar and dancing for his dad. How many times has their happened during the Socially Distanced Playoffs for other families?

The big question for Game 5: Will Steven Stamkos or Ben Bishop play on Saturday night?

After his dramatic (albeit brief) return in Game 3, Stamkos was held out of Game 4 due to an ongoing injury issue. Coach Jon Cooper said he could return to the series. Bishop was “unfit to play” in Game 4 and hasn’t seen the ice since getting pulled in the first period of Game 5 against Colorado in the conference semifinals. The reason he played in that game was because it was the back end of back-to-back games for Dallas. Will he get the start over Khudobin, who played his 23rd of the postseason on Friday night? He has skated in optional practices this week. Or would the Stars consider giving rookie Jake Oettinger his first NHL start in an elimination game?

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