The early lead, particularly the first goal, has been a key ingredient in the success of both Conference Champions this postseason, with each having won nine games when they've tallied the first marker. The Lightning accomplished the feat tonight only to find out that isn't enough, going into a defensive shell in the third period and getting burned twice late to drop the opening game of the series.
The Lightning started fast in the first period and fairly dominated play throughout the period. They outshot Chicago 10-7 with the Blackhawks getting most of those few shots late due to a couple of power plays. They also held a decisive advantage in faceoffs, winning 14 of 20.
Alex Killorn put the Bolts on top at 4:31 on a nifty goal that saw him at the side of the net where he spun and used his backhand to spike the puck and bounce it past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Anton Stralman and Valtteri Filppula were credited with assists on the play.
The period ended with Tampa Bay up 1-0
The second period came and went with no goals scored and both teams doing a good job of limiting offensive opportunities, although the Lightning had a few good looks in the final three minutes of the period. The Lightning held an 18-13 edge in shots heading into the second intermission.
In the final period, for whatever reason, they came out playing a preventative defensive game, seemingly perfectly content to simply clear the puck from the defensive zone and not attempt to mount any kind of offensive pressure. It's a strategy that rarely ever works in the regular season, let alone a Stanley Cup Final
At 13:28, Teuvo Teravainen broke the seal, scoring on a screened Ben Bishop on assists from Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw
Just under two minutes later at 15:26, Antoine Vermette jumped on a terrible giveaway by J.T. Brown to score the eventual game winner. Teravainen picked up the lone assist.
Tasked with re-starting an idle offensive engine with under five minutes to play, Tampa Bay couldn't respond, unable to even pull Bishop for an extra attacker until there was just over a minute remaining.
The series continues with Game 2 at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
- Both teams are now 9-1 when scoring first this postseason.
- Neither team was able to cash in on power play opportunities, with Chicago going 0 for 3 and Tampa Bay 0 for 2 with the man advantage.
- Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle assumed assistant captain duties for tonight's game.
- Brian Bickell was a late scratch for Chicago and was replaced by Kris Versteeg.
- The Lightning slip to 5-6 at home this postseason, where they have now lost three in a row, something that never happened during the regular season.
- The Lightning honored the Lightning fans as the 52nd Lightning Community Heroes of the season during the first period of tonight's game, to thank the fans for all of their support. Greg Zimmer, a STM since day one and one of the Lightning's longest tenured season ticket holders, represented the fans and met with Mr. Vinik before the game. In honor of our fans, the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program is donating $100,000 donation to the Gold Shield Foundation and C.O.P.S.