EDMONTON, Alberta – Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning got themselves up off the ice to get even in the Stanley Cup Final.
After the Lightning got knocked around in Game 1, and Kucherov took some more hard hits early in Game 2, he had the primary assists on power-play goals by Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat in the first period. Kevin Shattenkirk then scored for an early three-goal lead and Tampa Bay held on for a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday night.
"It was a tough start, I guess," Kucherov said. "It's the playoffs, you have to play; it doesn't matter what happened."
All of Tampa Bay's goals came in a span of four shots in less than four minutes against Anton Khudobin, who made a Stanley Cup Final-record 22 saves in the third period for the Stars in their 4-1 win in Game 1.
Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark scored for Dallas on passes from John Klingberg, with Alexander Radulov also assisting on both.
"After that, we really got back to what makes us successful as a team," said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who had two assists. "We got pucks deep, we were good on the forecheck, we got some good opportunities. I liked the way we responded ... to close them out."
Kucherov left the bench momentarily early in the game after slamming into the boards during a collision with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak after trying to block a shot. Kucherov had already ended up on the ice twice before, when he was popped by Dallas captain Jamie Benn and when he drew a high-sticking penalty against Janmark. He was back quickly.
"My visor was broken or something," Kucherov said. "I went back in the room and changed it. Nothing bad happened."
On their second power play in Game 2, the Lightning cycled the puck to set up Kucherov's pass to Point to open the scoring 11:23 into the game. Three minutes later with a man advantage again, Palat finished a nice passing sequence, taking advantage of a half-open net and another setup by Kucherov.
'"It's easy to explain: We lost faceoffs and we were turning the puck over and we were taking penalties," Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness said. "It was an even game until we started taking penalties. It's faceoffs, turnovers and penalties — things you can't afford to do against an elite team like that."
Shattenkirk scored less than a minute after Palat.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots for Tampa Bay. Khudobin had 28 saves.
Tampa Bay had failed to score on its previous 14 power-play chances with the man advantage, since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finale, until the Kucherov-assisted goals with a man advantage.
"There's a couple good teams that have somewhat of a foundation to win games and how you play," Pavelski said. "We definitely were closer to ours in Game 1, and we got away from it early tonight and it cost us."