But will Stamkos return?
What’s Happening: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos made a triumphant return in time for Wednesday’s Game #3, finding the back of the net less than ten minutes in. But after just five shifts total, Stamkos didn’t play the rest of the game.
Tell Me More: A little Stamkos is better than no Stamkos, but that could be the last we see of the captain this season. But his goal was instrumental in the Lightning taking Game #3, putting them just two wins away from a Stanley Cup.
The Road Back: ESPN’s Emily Kaplan writes, “Stamkos became the first player since 1940 to score a goal while making his first postseason appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Stamkos played about three minutes, all in the first period, and was relegated to the bench for the second and third periods…It has been a long road back for Stamkos, who hadn't played in a game in 211 days. He underwent surgery on March 2 to repair a core muscle injury, which had an initial recovery timeline of six to eight weeks. Stamkos joined his team for voluntary workouts over the summer but apparently reaggravated the injury and has had at least one setback since then.”
Moving Forward: For the first time in over a decade, there will be back to back games in a Stanley Cup Final. This could be huge, especially for the team who wins on Friday. The ability to carry momentum is particularly important when playing back to backs.