Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden has clearly put himself into the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is presented annually to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Wednesday, Hedman led the Lightning in points (one goal and two assists) with three, as Tampa Bay defeated Dallas 5-2 in game three of the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals. With the win, the Lightning have taken a two games to one lead in the best out of seven series.
In the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to date, Hedman has played in 22 games and had 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points. He now leads all blueliners in playoff goals. Hedman has three more goals than Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights, who is second on the list with seven playoff goals.
Hedman is also having an excellent Stanley Cup Playoff defensively. He leads all players in plus/minus with a +17. The player closest to Hedman, is former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov of Maikop, Russia, who is a +15. Hedman also has 40 blocked shots, 28 hits and seven takeaways.
On Wednesday, the Lightning got out to a quick 2-0 lead. Kucherov had an unassisted marker at 5:33 of the first period. Then Steven Stamkos of Markham, Ontario scored just over a minute later from Jan Rutta of Pisek, Czech Republic and Hedman. The goal for Stamkos was significant as this was the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Lightning captain. Stamkos had missed the Lightning’s first 21 games in the Toronto/Edmonton bubble with a lower body injury. Stamkos did not play much in game three, as he left the game after only playing two minutes and 47 seconds due to another ailment.
Hedman meanwhile scored the game winning goal for the Lightning at the 54 second mark of the second period on the power play from Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat. Hedman then picked up an assist on an insurance goal by Brayden Point before Palat put the Lightning up 5-1 late in the second period. Game four of the Stanley Cup Finals is Friday.