Steven Stamkos Stanley will not play in the 4th game of the Cup final, coach John Cooper said, but the Tampa Bay Lightning captain has not been ruled out for the remainder of the series.
Cooper made the announcement Friday morning, saying Stamkos was “unfit to play” in Game 4. Lightning leads the series 2-1 against the Dallas Stars, with games 4 and 5 on the back and forth of games, Friday and Saturday.
The Stamkos did not play all summer before making their debut in the post-2020 season at Game 3 on Wednesday. Stamkos scored on the first shot he took as Lightning won 5-2. He became the first player in 80 years to score a goal while playing his first postseason game of the year in the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the 30-year-old Stamkos took only five shifts, totaling less than three minutes of play time, and did not play in the second or third period. He said he was fired because he faced “a problem”. Stamkos was on the bench with his teammates for the rest of Game 3, and took a few turns in the snow when TV time was over.
“There are a lot of things behind the scenes and I will be happy to share with you after that season,” Stamkos said after the game. “We are now focused on winning. Tonight was a step in the right direction.”
Stamkos has not played a game since Feb. 25 and underwent surgery on March 2 to repair a major muscle injury. The expected recovery period was six to eight weeks, but he suffered several setbacks. Cooper said when inserting Stamkos into the Game 3 lineup, he did not expect the captain to have any ice limits.