The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Dallas Stars in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final. Both poor puck management and positioning on the ice caused problems for the Lightning in the two first periods. They bounced back in the third period, but the score was already 3-1 in favor of the Stars and Anton Khudobin once again proved why he’s in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy as he brushed away a bevy of chances in the final 20 minutes. The Lightning will have a chance to tie the series on Monday.
It wasn’t the best start of the Stanley Cup Final for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars were clearly better in opening minutes and forced Andrei Vasilevskiy to be involved very early in the game. The Lightning goaltender was able to block first shots by Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but was helpless when Joel Hanley scored his first career playoff goal five at 5:40 minutes of the game.
Brayden Point was boarded on the left side of the rink by Joel Kiviranta, Zach Bogosian went to help his teammate and was caught out of position. Roope Hintz used the space past the net and delivered a pass to Hanley, who sent the puck by Vasilevskiy. The pressure continues as moments later Jamie Benn was left out in front of the net, but Barclay Goodrow blocked his shot.
Luke Schenn went to the locker room after a collision with Alex Radulov but returned a couple of minutes later. While he was there, Pat Maroon and Jamie Oleksiak got into a little brawl in front of the Stars bench – Maroon were trying to take away the puck from Corey Perry who fallen down on the ice and it started a scrum. Both players were sent to penalty box, giving the teams couple minutes of 4-on-4 game.
After scoring their goal, the Stars have stepped down a little bit, allowing the Bolts to spend more time at their zone. The Lightning managed to tie the game, however there still wasn’t a lot of build up prior to the goal. Blake Coleman fired the puck from the blueline, it rebounded off the Yanni Gourde’s skates, then Roope Hintz’s and ended up in the net. Finally, Gourde was credited with the goal.
The Stars finished the period stronger, constantly pushing the Bolts back into their zone. The Lightning allowed a couple of situations when Dallas forwards appeared alone in front of Vasilevskiy, but other than that it didn’t result in a very dangerous moments.
From a statistical standpoint the Stars had a better period: they out shot the Lightning, created more high-dangerous chances and led the opponent in expected goal share, but the score on the scoreboard was even.
The Stars continued to control the pace of the game in the second period, although the Lightning were helping them with bad decision making and poor puck management. One minute into the second period Dallas got their first power play opportunity when Coleman went to the penalty box for slashing, trying to prevent a Stars breakaway. Dallas was close to capitalizing on that power play but Andrei Vasilevskiy kept his team alive. One of the most dangerous moments of this power play happened when Alex Radulov hit the post and Vasilevskiy made a big save on Seguin’s shot after the rebound. Dallas made seven shot attempts during two minutes, but the Bolts survived.
Couple of minutes later after killing off the first power play, the Lightning returned on penalty kill, once again it was Coleman who was called for hooking. It wasn’t as much dangerous as previous one, but Vasilevskiy still had to be stellar to keep the score even.
The Stars scored another goal midway through the period: Radulov lured three Tampa Bay players, while Jamie Oleksiak was left alone at the left circle, Radulov then passed to him in the slot – Oleksiak’s first shot was blocked by Schenn but the Dallas player collected the rebound and beat Vasilevskiy, sending the puck top shelf.
The Lightning made a couple of good plays in the second half: first Anthony Cirelli was close to score on the rebound, but Khudobin was able to control the puck after it took off in the air. A couple of minutes later Brayden Point redirected Schenn’s shot but it hit the crossbar.
The Stars extended their lead in the final minute of the second period: Kiviranta carried the puck through the neutral zone, Mikhail Sergachev blocked his first shot, but the Stars forward was more successful on the second, shooting under Vasilevskiy arm.
Additionally the Lightning lost Pat Maroon to 10-minute misconduct for shooting the puck into the Stars bench during the final seconds.
The Stars still were more successful with quality of their shots, controlling the expected goal share, the Lightning took over an advantage in shot attempts but were already trailing 3-1 by the start of the third period.
Despite missing one of their forwards, the Lightning started to push heavily from the first minutes of the period. Anton Khudobin, who didn’t have that much workload in the previous periods, was forced to make couple of big saves to keep his teams’s lead. The Lightning had a great chance after Tyler Johnson delivered the puck to Killorn, but Khudobin denied his shot.
The Lightning got their first power play opportunity five minutes into the third period, when John Klingberg was sent off for hooking. The Lightning had a couple of solid chances during two minutes of that power play but couldn’t convert it.
The Lightning looked much better in the third period, not allowing their opponent a lot of space and pushing them into their zone. The Stars first shot attempt of the period happened during the eight minute mark of the period, but the Lightning still couldn’t get the puck into the net, as Anton Khudobin was almost standing on his head, keeping a two-goal lead for Dallas.
In the remaining time, the Lightning had two more power play opportunities, but again went scoreless, despite creating a lot of decent moments. The pulling of goaltender in the final four minutes didn’t help either, the Bolts allowed an empty-netter from Jason Dickinson and lost the first game of the Stanley Cup Final 4-1.
Yanni Gourde (Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow) 1-1