EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – Yanni Gourde scored with 1:06 left in the second to pull the Tampa Bay Lightning even with the Dallas Stars at 3 after two periods of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night.
It was the second late-period, potentially momentum-shifting goal by the Lightning after Brayden Point scored with 32.6 seconds left in the first. Point also scored a power-play goal early in the second.
Tampa Bay has dominated for long stretches but at one point trailed 3-2 with Dallas scoring three times on seven shots against Vezina Trophy finalist goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. After John Klingberg and Joe Pavelski scored in the first, Tyler Seguin made a spectacular play to set up Corey Perry for the Stars’ third goal toward the midway point of the second.
It might be another Lightning rout if not for the play of Anton Khudobin, who made some spectacular saves and stopped 20 shots in the first two periods. Tampa Bay had a Dallas 23-17 shots edge.
With Dallas trailing the series 2-1, coach Rick Bowness shuffled his lines and top two defensive pairings and got some strong shifts early, even if didn’t show up on the shot count. Then Klingberg continued to work his playoff magic.
The Swedish defenseman collected the puck at his own blue line, skated it into the offensive zone by himself and got a good bounce. Klingberg’s initial shot banked off Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta’s right skate and between Victor Hedman’s legs before he got the puck back and fired it past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who might’ve been caught off guard.
Pavelski scored on the Stars’ third and final goal of the period with 1:32 left. Captain Jamie Benn continued his strong play this postseason, feeding the puck past Rutta to Pavelski on a 2-on-1 rush.
The goal was Pavelski’s 59th in his playoff career, one behind Joe Mullen for the most among U.S.-born players.
Each of Dallas’ two first-period goals came with Hedman on the ice at even strength, a rarity for one of the Conn Smythe front-runners as playoff MVP.
Hedman was right there to congratulate Point after he cut Tampa Bay’s deficit in half 59 seconds after Pavelski scored. Linemate Ondrej Palat sprung Point for the breakaway with a perfect pass, and the Lightning’s top center finished it off with a backhander to beat Khudobin.
Point continued his brilliant playoffs by scoring his 13th goal to tie it 2:08 after the end of the first intermission. Seguin, whose goal drought is at 12 games and counting, helped put the Stars ahead by getting the puck into the crease off Vasilevskiy, and Perry crashed the net to put it in.
Taking a lead into the third period could’ve been a huge boost for Dallas, which trails the series. The Stars are 9-1 this postseason when leading after two.
Dallas was again without veteran forward Blake Comeau, who appeared to injure his right shoulder in Game 2. The Lightning didn’t have captain Steven Stamkos, who aggravated an injury after scoring in Game 3 two nights ago.
After this one ends, these teams don’t have much time to dwell on the result. Game 5 is Saturday night in the first back to back in a Cup Final since 2009 and just the second in the NHL’s expansion era that began in 1967.
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