Through their first 20 games of the postseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning have yet to suffer back-to-back losses. But if that comes to an end Monday night, they will be facing a big deficit in the Stanley Cup Final with not much time to bounce back.
After dropping Game 1 on Saturday, Tampa Bay will look to respond in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars, who notched a 4-1 victory in the opener. The Stars have played especially well of late, as they have won six of their past seven games, a stretch that started with a Game 7 overtime win in the second round against the Colorado Avalanche.
In the past, a Game 1 win has meant a lot in the final playoff series of the season. Per NHL PR, the team that has won the first game of the Stanley Cup Final has gone on to win the series 61 of 80 times since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1939.
With Game 2 set to take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, on Monday, here's everything you need to know heading into the contest.
Game 2 Information
Date: Monday, Sept. 21
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Game 2 Preview
Is there an offensive boost coming soon for the Lightning? And if so, will it be too late?
For the entire postseason, Tampa Bay has been without captain Steven Stamkos, a two-time All-Star and one of its veterans on offense. After scoring 29 goals and 37 assists in 57 regular-season games, Stamkos hasn't played since the postseason began in early August because of injury.
However, Stamkos is "inching his way closer" to a return, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Sunday, according to ESPN. But he still might not be back for Game 2.
"I guess there's always a chance, but as of now, I don't think so," Cooper said. "But that's why you've got to tune in and find out."
Although it's unclear what kind of condition Stamkos is in, Tampa Bay could benefit from a fresh player. The Lightning were banged up in the Eastern Conference Final, with high-scoring center Brayden Point notably missing two games because of injury and several other players spending some time off the ice to nurse minor ailments.
And while Tampa Bay had only one day off between series, Dallas had four, which perhaps helped result in its victory in Game 1. Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin had 35 saves, while they scored a pair of second-period goals to take control of the game.
The Lightning started to generate more shots in the third period of Game 1, getting 22 on net. However, Khudobin stopped all of them, so they will need to find a way to start getting a few past the red-hot 34-year-old.
Khudobin has been a key part of Dallas' recent success, as he's allowed two or fewer goals in five of the team's past six games. The goalie's save percentage stands at an incredible .961 since the start of the Western Conference Final.
"His play's been speaking for itself," Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak said, according to Field Level Media (h/t ESPN). "He's been great for us, and it looks like whenever he's out there, he's having fun, and we're feeding off that energy."
If Khudobin keeps it up in Game 2, then the Stars could be heading toward a 2-0 lead in the series, which would be a tough for the Lightning to overcome, especially in a neutral arena. But the only other time Tampa Bay faced a deficit this postseason (in the second round against the Boston Bruins), it bounced back from a Game 1 loss with four consecutive victories to advance.