The Dallas Stars struck first blood and won the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Tampa Bay Lightning won two games in a row to take a 2-1 series lead. The Lightning are 1/7 odds favorites to win the Stanley Cup heading into Game 4 of the finals. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos played in his first postseason game this year, and scored a goal during his long-awaited return to the ice after a seven-month layoff while recovering from surgery.

Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos Stanley Cup Finals Odds Dallas Stars
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos celebrates a goal in his first game back after a seven-month layoff. (Image: Marko Ditkun/Tampa Bay Times)

Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning skated to one of the best records (62-16-4) in NHL history, but were upset in the first round of the 2019 NHL Playoffs when the Columbus Blue Jackets swept them. The Lightning have been on a mission this season to not make the same mistake again.

The Lightning are now just two wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup. They previously won the cup during the 2003-04 season.

Dallas Stars (1-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1)
  • Puck-Drop: 5:00pm PT
  • Money Line: DAL +145 / TB -167
  • Total: 5 o/u
  • Puck Line: TB -1.5 (+160) / DAL +1.5 (-195)

DraftKings updated its NHL playoffs series lines, and the Lightning are -560 to clinch the series and win the Cup. You can get the Dallas Stars right now at +445 to rally back and win the series.

The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas also updated its NHL futures. The Lightning are 1/7 odds to win the Stanley Cup, while the Stars are 4/1 odds to hoist the Cup.

Two Quick Strikes, Stamkos Returns

Stamkos finally returned to the lineup for the Lightning. Tampa’s captain only skated for a handful of shifts, but he provided an emotional boost for the squad. He’s been missing since February while recovering from core muscle surgery.

“Just to be able to get out into a game and have an impact on a game, which a month ago may have never been possible,” said Stamkos. “At this time of the year, you want to do anything you can to help your team win.”

Stamkos scored a goal on his first shot on net, and the bench went berserk.

“We lost our team play, we lost our intensity and we lost our focus,” said Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness. “When you do that, a team like that is going to make you look real bad, which they did.”

Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat added goals in the blowout. The Dallas Stars scored a late garbage-time goal after trailing 5-1.

When you hold your opponent to two or fewer goals, you tend to put your team in a good position to win. In the last two games, Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals in each game. The Vezina Trophy winner came up big in the last two games in net, after an ugly Game 1 when he looked like a sieve allowing three goals.

2020 Stanley Cup Odds History

At the start of 2019-20 NHL season, oddsmakers pegged the Lightning as a Stanley Cup favorite. The Boston Bruins were 8/1 and the Lightning were right behind at 9/1 odds to win the Cup.

By the All-Star Break, the Lightning (29-15-4) didn’t see any change in their Cup odds, which remained at 9/1.

At the start of the 24-team NHL playoffs, the Lightning were one of the co-favorites with the Bruins at 6/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

The Dallas Stars came into this season as 17/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. At the All-Star Break, the Stars were 16/1 odds to win the Cup.

When teams headed to their respective bubble cities at the start of the playoffs, the Stars were 15/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.