Tanpa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stankos will not play again during the Stanley Cup final, head coach Joan Cooper said on Sunday, adding that the team’s top star will appear on the ice during the trophy show next time.
The Lightning, who led 3-2 in the seven-finals, have a chance to win the franchise’s second Stanley Cup on Monday, when they face the Dallas Stars in Game 6 in Edmonton, one of two COVID-19 bubbles used by the National Hockey League for the post-season.
Dallas missed out on elimination 3-2 in double overtime on Saturday night.
Recovering from March surgery to correct a core muscle injury, Stamcos was limited to five shifts and within just three minutes of ice time during playoff. But he made them count, scoring a key goal in Lightning’s Game 3 victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead.
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“Stammer happens for the series,” Cooper said, discussing the situation with Stankos before Sunday. “Hopefully when you see him on the ice, it’s for the trophy show.”
As team captain, Stamkos will accept the Stanley Cup if he wins the Lightning Championship.
“He did everything he could to get back and he came back. Unfortunately, he could not go any further,” Cooper said.
“He definitely missed the snow, but the rest of the series is going to be for him.”
As the series drew 1-1, Stamkos, a two-time winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, provided the NHL’s top goal scorer with a huge emotional lift, scoring seven minutes into the opening period of Game 3 to give Tampa a 2-0 lead.
Stankos did not play in the last six minutes of the first period and did not take another shift for the rest of the game.
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“Honestly, I never thought he’d play in this playoffs at all,” Cooper said. “I don’t think any of us did, so he gave us a 2:47 amazing hockey, which is an extraordinary story, we scored a huge goal in a win and let’s hope that um picks up and moves on.”