EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – John Klingberg and Joe Pavelski scored and the Dallas Stars led the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 after the first period Friday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Dallas led despite being outshot 8-3. Anton Khudobin stopped the first seven shots he faced before Brayden Point scored with 32.6 seconds left before intermission.
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’ 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.
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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