Stanley Cup Final Game 2 takeaways: How the Lightning held off a late Stars rally

After a 4-1 win for the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning evened things up in Game 2 on the strength of a three-goal first period. The Stars proved to be a tough out, bringing it to a one-goal deficit and fighting to the end, but Andrei Vasilevskiy held them off to secure a 3-2 win for Tampa Bay.

Miss any of the game? We’re here with the top takeaways as we look ahead to a pivotal Game 3 on Wednesday.

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

Stanley Cup Final Game 2 in 10 words or fewer

Heard you like power plays: How about nine of them?

Player of the game: Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning

The Tampa goalie was spotted a three-goal lead and then was asked to do some heavy lifting to preserve it. A parade of penalties in the second period gave the Stars ample power-play time and an 18-5 shot advantage. He stopped 17 of those shots, including a couple of near breakaways for the Stars. One sequence saw him make two straight saves on Joe Pavelski. Vasilevskiy was also strong late in the third, with the Stars pressing for the tie. Anton Khudobin (28 saves) settled down across the ice after a tough first period, but it was Vasilevskiy’s night with 27 saves.

What worked for Tampa Bay?

The start and the power play. As Lightning coach Jon Cooper noted after Game 1, the team’s effort in the first 40 minutes of that game barely necessitated a shower afterward. They had their legs and their heads in the game in the first period of Game 2. Then they found their confidence courtesy of three power plays, two of which resulted in goals. They added a third tally to complete a monster first period, including a plus-4 in scoring chances at 5-on-5. Then they hung on — at times for dear life.

What didn’t work for Dallas?

Discipline. Coach Rick Bowness said the only thing he didn’t like about their Game 1 win was their third-period effort, as the Lightning dominated and the Stars took three penalties. Well, in the first period of Game 2, the Lightning dominated, and Dallas took the first three penalties of the game: Mattias Janmark (high-sticking, 3:20), Joe Pavelski (tripping, 10:58) and Jamie Oleksiak (holding, 13:11). All night, the Stars were going for the big hits and additional punishment. That played into the Lightning’s hands more than breaking their spirits.

The goals

Tampa Bay 1-0: Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman), 11:23, first period, power play

The old saying is “it’s better to be lucky than good,” and Tampa was a little of both here. On the second power play of the first period, the Lightning created a little chaos in front of Khudobin on their first chance, and they filtered the puck to the slot on their second. That was good. The lucky part: Point’s shot deflected off the stick of Esa Lindell. Khudobin went left. The puck went right. Tampa went up 1-0 on Point’s 10th of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay 2-0: Ondrej Palat (Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman), 14:22, first period, power play

The Lightning entered Game 2 in a 0-for-15 drought on the power play, but you wouldn’t know it with the way they moved the puck here. Hedman to Kucherov, across the ice to Palat and then into a gaping net for his ninth of the playoffs. Khudobin has earned favorable comparisons to former Boston Bruins playoff MVP Tim Thomas stylistically, but being overaggressive has its occasional downside — such as this, when Khudobin was unable to get back to his right, thanks to the Lightning’s pinpoint passing.

Tampa Bay 3-0: Kevin Shattenkirk (Blake Coleman and Anthony Cirelli), 15:16, first period

The Lightning finished Game 1 with their best period — and only good period — of the game, outshooting Dallas 22-2 in the third. That momentum carried over to the first period here, as they outshot Dallas 14-6 and completed a three-goal burst on this long-distance, seeing-eye shot from Shattenkirk for his second of the playoffs. Dallas rookie Joel Kiviranta turned the puck over to start the sequence. Tampa scored three goals in 3:53.

Dallas 3-1: Joe Pavelski (John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov) 14:43, second period, power play

The Stars joined the power-play party on a deflection from the master of such things, Joe Pavelski. Klingberg floated a shot that Pavelski tipped home, winning a physical battle against Ryan McDonagh in the process. This was Pavelski’s 10th goal, the second-highest total of his playoff career. This is why Dallas signed him last summer: To get the Stars these kinds of goals because they lacked them last postseason.

Dallas 3-2: Mattias Janmark (John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov), 5:27, third period

Tough one for Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Stars entered the zone on an odd-man rush, with Radulov setting up Klingberg in the circle to the goalie’s left. Vasilevskiy set up for a high glove-side shot from Klingberg. But Janmark snuck behind Lightning defenseman Shattenkirk and set up his stick for what was essentially an alley-oop from Klingberg. Vasilevskiy assumed that his defenseman would take away any shooter in that situation. He assumed incorrectly.

Easy call of the night

The Lightning thought they scored a critical goal in the third period after Dallas closed to 3-2. Mikhail Sergachev sent a shot through some legs and then through Khudobin’s. Alas, a quick review of the play shows that Blake Coleman was in the zone before the puck. As coach’s challenges go, this video review was one of the swiftest of the playoffs.

One of the only players in the NHL who can have an opponent in a full headlock on the ice and then look up at the referee with “who, me?” across his mug. Classic Corey Perry.

The big question for Game 3: OK, so how about Steven Stamkos?

The Lightning captain skated in the optional practice before Game 2 but wasn’t in the lineup for the game. Jon Cooper said the captain is “inching closer.” Time will tell.

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