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NHL Stanley Cup Final 2020: Lightning vs. Stars Game 3 Odds and Predictions

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2020

Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell (23) and center Mattias Janmark (13) celebrate with center Joe Pavelski, center, after Pavelski's winning goal in overtime of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

With the series deadlocked at 1-1, the Dallas Stars and Tampa Lightning will both look to gain an edge on the other in Game 3 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the favorites on DraftKings with moneyline of -157 (bet $157 to win $100). The Stars are +135 (bet $100 to win $135) as they attempt to rebound from their Game 2 defeat.

Dallas' players might relish being in the role of the underdog since the team has performed so well when falling behind throughout the NHL playoffs.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

The @DallasStars have made a habit of staging comebacks this postseason – with an NHL-best eight comeback victories thus far – but ultimately fell short in Game 2. #StanleyCup More #NHLStats: https://t.co/J60qlQYm3v https://t.co/KFGnt1Igog

The trend continued Monday as the Lightning built a big lead early on thanks to three goals in the first period. Joe Pavelski got one back for the Stars in the second period before Mattias Janmark scored 5:27 into the third.

#StanleyCup Final on NBC @NHLonNBCSports

HERE COME THE STARS! 🚨 #GoStars cut the lead to 1️⃣. https://t.co/UXCrf7PTzd

Tampa Bay deserves credit for not wilting late when Dallas started throwing everything it had at goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. If anything, the Lightning were the stronger team even as the Stars ramped up tempo.

Their performance on the power play was a decisive factor in the outcome of Game 2. Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat both scored when Tampa Bay had a man advantage.

The Lightning hadn't scored on the power play since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. That's a far cry from the regular season, when they capitalized on 23.2 percent of their power-play opportunities, fifth-highest in the league.

"I think we're just trying to stick with it," Point told reporters of the team's power-play strategy. "I think scoring that first goal today, that's all we're thinking about. We're staying positive with the power play. We were crisp on our passes. ... I don't know if it's a sense of relief, just happy to get a goal."

Tampa Bay should be careful not to rely too heavily on power plays to create goals, though. The Stars averaged 8.23 penalty minutes per game, 16th-most in the league, during the regular season. That number has climbed to 10.65 minutes in the postseason but it still only 11th among the 24 playoff teams.

Dallas generally doesn't commit a high number of penalties that force the team to play short-handed.

To say Game 2 was a turning point is a bit of a stretch because a lot can still change. Jumping on the Stars in the opening frame and then preventing another Dallas comeback should have provided the Lightning with a big lift, though.

Coach Jon Cooper told reporters how pivotal the result could be:

"The one thing that this team has done is they just never put themselves in panic mode. Instead of trying to protect the lead, they went out there and actually they kind of took it to them. Not in the sense that we were trying to score, but we were completely engaged. ... They knew the job at hand, the talk on the bench was to close this out, and that's what they did."

The Stanley Cup Final might be destined to go six or seven games given how little separates these teams.

Tampa Bay should be able to build on Monday's win to move ahead in the series.

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