Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Sunday that Stamkos, who has been "unfit to play" for the playoffs since he had core muscle surgery in March, is done for the series, according to Bryan Burns of TampaBayLightning.com.
Stamkos played three minutes during Game 3, scoring a goal on his first shot attempt to help Tampa Bay to a 5-2 victory. After his brief appearance Wednesday, he suffered an "issue" that prevented him from returning to the ice, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan.
The decision to hold Stamkos out for the remainder of the series was made Sunday morning, one day before the series-leading Lightning could clinch the Stanley Cup in Game 6. Cooper said even his short outing in Game 3 defied expectations the team had for its captain this postseason:
"He did everything he could to get back. And he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn't go any further. I'm sure this will all be addressed after the series is over. He gamed it out. To be honest, I didn't think he was playing at all in these playoffs. I don't think any of us did. So, he gave us 2:47 of brilliant hockey that's a phenomenal story, scored a huge goal for us in a win, and hopefully we can keep that momentum."
After Game 3, it seemed Stamkos knew his season was over.
"It was just an amazing experience to share with my teammates," he said, per Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times. "I've watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it was a dream come true. I'm so proud of these guys to be able to share that moment with them."
Both coach and player have alluded to Stamkos sharing details about his health after the season is over. The Lightning are hoping that when he does share what has kept him off the ice, he's doing so at a trophy celebration.