Steven Stamkos didn’t play for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-Four extra time win in opposition to the Dallas Stars in Sport Four of the Stanley Cup Closing at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Friday.
“We’ve not dominated him out for the collection,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated earlier than the sport.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored 6:34 into extra time to place the Lightning one win from the Stanley Cup. Sport 5 of the best-of-7 collection is Saturday (eight p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Stamkos scored within the first interval in his return from damage, a 5-2 win in opposition to the Stars in Sport three in Edmonton, the hub metropolis for the Cup Closing, on Wednesday.
The ahead, who had not performed since Feb. 25, scored 6:58 into the sport to present the Lightning a 2-Zero lead. After being sidelined by a lower-body damage, he performed 5 shifts for two:47, leaving the sport with 6:18 left within the first interval.
“It was simply a tremendous expertise to share with my teammates,” Stamkos stated after the sport. “There’s been quite a lot of laborious work and various things occurring behind the scenes. Simply to have the ability to get out in a sport and have an effect in a sport which a month in the past might have by no means been doable. It was wonderful to be a part of an enormous win for us. I used to be simply actually joyful to clearly contribute in a sport that I did not play an excessive amount of.
“Clearly there is a matter that I have been working by way of. We’ll see what occurs from right here, however I used to be simply extraordinarily joyful to be on the market with these guys and have an opportunity to only be on the bench and contribute to a win. We have much more hockey left on this collection. We’re specializing in the subsequent sport.”
As a part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a staff will not be permitted to reveal participant damage or sickness info.
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Stamkos had surgical procedure to restore a core muscle damage March 2 and missed Tampa Bay’s last seven video games earlier than the NHL season was paused March 12 because of issues surrounding the coronavirus. He was second on the Lightning with 66 factors (29 objectives, 37 assists) in 57 video games, behind ahead Nikita Kucherov (85 factors; 33 objectives, 52 assists).
“He solely had 5 shifts, however in all probability as environment friendly a 5 shifts as you are ever going to see in a Nationwide Hockey League playoff sport,” Cooper stated of Stamkos. “… Right here we’re watching a participant come again, after which do what he did on the most important stage on the greatest time of 12 months … you need to marvel at it, and it was fairly rattling cool.”
Stamkos resumed skating and was an everyday participant in optionally available practices and morning skates this week, together with an optionally available follow Tuesday. He’d been unfit to play all through the postseason with an damage sustained earlier than coaching camp started July 13. Stamkos participated in drills with the highest power-play unit throughout camp however didn’t participate in a full follow till after the Lightning arrived in Toronto, the hub metropolis for the Japanese Convention by way of the second spherical of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, on July 26.
“He is been working so laborious to return again,” Shattenkirk stated of Stamkos. “He hasn’t given up. It is only a true testomony to him as a participant and as an individual, and it is the rationale why he wears the C on his jersey.”
Stamkos, skating up the right-wing boards, prevented a test by Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell and scored in opposition to goalie Anton Khudobin with a excessive shot to the far aspect from the underside of the fitting face-off circle. Stamkos is the second participant in NHL historical past to attain when taking part in his first sport of that postseason within the Stanley Cup Closing. Billy Taylor Sr. additionally did so for the Toronto Maple Leafs within the 1940 Closing in opposition to the New York Rangers.
“[Stamkos], clearly he is our chief, he is our captain,” Lightning heart Anthony Cirelli stated. “To have him with us there, you give [him] one alternative, he will make it rely. Simply having him there with us, the emotion was excessive, he obtained that objective there for us which was an enormous, big objective and … we fed off that.”
Stamkos’ return was just like the one he made through the 2016 playoffs. He missed eight weeks that season recovering from surgical procedure to clear a blood clot close to his proper collarbone earlier than returning in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Sport 7 of the Japanese Convention Closing, taking part in 11:55 in a 2-1 loss.
“We knew it was going to be tough to attempt to get right into a sport. It has been such a very long time,” Stamkos stated. “Right now of the 12 months, you need to do every thing you possibly can to assist your staff win. I’ve watched these guys be so dedicated to what our finish objective is, and to be part of it tonight it was a dream come true.”