EDMONTON, AB – Kevin Shattenkirk will never forget having his contract bought out in the summer of 2019 and joining the Tampa Bay Lightning because he felt their core players had a similar chip on their shoulders after a shocking first-round exit.
More than a year later, he created a moment to remember to put the Lightning on the verge of making good on years of unfulfilled potential.
Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal in overtime after a questionable penalty, and the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 Friday night to take a 3-1 lead in the final and move a victory away from lifting the Stanley Cup. With Game 5 on Saturday night, Tampa Bay was potentially 24 hours away from its second championship in franchise history after winning it in 2004.
“Looking forward to tomorrow night because then it could all come really full circle,” Shattenkirk said. “We’ve got a job to do here. It’s still not finished.”
It almost is for a core group that has so far been unable to get over the hump despite being one of the best teams in the NHL for much of the past decade. Shattenkirk came over after the New York Rangers let him go, but guys like Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Andrei Vasilevskiy and coach Jon Cooper have been around a while and are focused on finishing this.
“They came here to do something,” Cooper said. “They’re on their way, but we’ve said all along, we haven’t won anything yet. We still have to win one more and we’re not taking anything for granted."
It was another dominant performance by top players who looked exactly like they wouldn’t be denied after getting this far. Point, the Lightning’s top center, scored consecutive goals at the end of the first period and start of the second, creating and sustaining the kind of momentum that has been so important in the playoffs.
The Lightning got the winning power play when Dallas captain Jamie Benn was called for tripping Tyler Johnson on a play where Benn's skates never made contact with Johnson's as trailing referee Francis Charron called it.