The Tampa Bay Lightning opened the Stanley Cup Final with a brilliant 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at home. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each had three-point nights, with Kucherov scoring twice in the third period to bring the game home. Erik Cernak opened the scoring, Yanni Gourde got the game winner, and Steven Stamkos finished the game on the power play at the end.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 18 of only 19 shots that came his way, while Carey Price let in five goals on 26 shots. The Lightning did a great job of blocking shots, first and foremost from Alex Killorn, but the Habs also missed on a lot of their attempts.
The Habs had 51 shot attempts in a game they mostly trailed in, and only 19 shots were on target. 15 blocks, 17 misses.— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) June 29, 2021
The Lightning were in control of most of the game, with most of the Habs shots coming at the end when they were desperate. This was a big win for the Lightning, and more than anything showed the quality difference on paper coming out into reality. It’s still going to be a series with bumps and bruises (almost exclusively literally) but one where the Lightning definitely do have the upper hand.
This was also the first Game 1 victory in Round 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Lightning. The previous three times they made it to the end, they lost Game 1.
There's no doubt that Nikita Kucherov has been one of the NHL's postseason greats in recent years. #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/0gHs6VPsz6— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 29, 2021
Erik Cernak opens the scoring for the Lightning! Off a takeaway from Brayden Point, the Lightning rushed up the ice led by Cernak. He gave the puck to Ondrej Palat and headed to the front of the net. Palat threw the puck in the open space and Cernak deflected it past Price for his first goal of the playoffs.
What a play from Pally and Cerny for our first of the series! pic.twitter.com/5salA3X286— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 29, 2021
The old dogs are still skating circles around the young kids, eh?
Ryan McDonagh literally spun around Caufield pic.twitter.com/VYOyTkTc7M— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Brendan Gallagher spent much of the first period trying to get his butt knocked on the ice, and the team’s first liner succeeded a couple times. First, he stole Blake Coleman’s helmet, and then he tried to push Victor Hedman before getting mauled by Coleman and Gourde.
Blake Coleman vs. Brendan Gallagher pic.twitter.com/YUwLQrWiC7— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Gallagher tried to push Hedman and he didn't even move lol pic.twitter.com/BejFrW9dI6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Barclay Goodrow then got a penalty for hitting Gallagher. I’m not sure what the penalty was, because I’m pretty sure if you have the puck you’re allowed to get checked. Anthony Cirelli had a shorthanded chance right away against the slow Habs defense. The Habs got no shots on their first power play.
Ben Chiarot then gave Kucherov a cross check to the face and promptly took a penalty. The Lightning then gave a lesson on what a good power play looks like as Stamkos and Kucherov both got a couple big chances before the period ended 45 seconds into the man advantage.
- Shot attempts: 15-11 (58%)
- Shots on goal: 7-5
- Scoring chances: 7-6
- Expected goals: 0.53-0.39 (57%)
A nervous start, but the Lightning played really well in the first period and challenged Price a lot. They missed on about half their chances, so settling down and getting some more on net will be the goal. The Lightning were definitely able to beat the Habs defense out wide and using quick passes to push them out of position.
The Lightning couldn’t get settled long enough to score on the power play at the start of the period, though they looked really good before and after the intermission.
Stamkos had a big chance but Price beat him with the glove high.
Yanni Gourde scores! Off a bit of a choppy play, Goodrow and Rutta picked up a turnover from Gallagher (yeah, him again) and started back the other way. Goodrow’s shot was blocked, but Coleman followed up with a rocket that beat Price. Gourde was standing in front as the screen and deflected it in. The goal was initially given the Coleman but it was updated to show Gourde had changed the trajectory.
Started with a Gallagher turnover— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Coleman buries it pic.twitter.com/iCcN2cSDsA
Vasilevskiy and Price were both making great saves in the second, Vasy taking on some point blank shots, while Price had to scramble for second and third chances. On top of showing the talent of both goalies, it showed me Tampa’s ability to pounce on rebounds and get those extra chances, while the Habs just don’t have the same ability in them.
By BOTH goalies! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/HGQjuA1iKu— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) June 29, 2021
Killorn laid out for a block and was in a lot of pain once he got back to the bench. What a guy.
Killorn gives Hedman his stick and dives to block a shot pic.twitter.com/ohj6GMJjE5— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
A point shot from Chiarot got through, deflected off Ryan McDonagh’s foot, bringing the game back to within one goal. The Lightning had the bodies in the area, it just took an unfortunate deflection past Vasilevskiy and in. Not much to say about it, I’m not sure what McDonagh or Vasilevskiy could’ve done.
Funniest playoff goal in history pic.twitter.com/gldBD27sLW— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
- Shot attempts: 17-16 (52%)
- Shots on goal: 12-8
- Scoring chances: 13-9
- Expected goals: 1.05-0.56 (65%)
So after two periods, nothing really changed. The Lightning still had a one-goal lead and they were still out-pacing the Habs significantly in chances.
The first half of the period was utter domination from the Lightning, and the Habs came back a little bit in the final quarter including the goal. The Habs offense was mostly coming from point shots, which can go in on occasion, but takes a lot of volume. They got the bounce, which is apparently how they have survived three playoff rounds.
Nikita Kucherov scores! This was another deflection that we initially thought went to Ondrej Palat, but it turned out he never touched it. Looking at the play, Mikhail Sergachev led the puck up to Kucherov, who got into the offensive zone. As Joel Edmundson was coming towards him, Kuch flipped the puck towards the net from his backhand. Chiarot tried the bat the puck away with his hand, but he didn’t get much on it and as Palat went for the rebound with his stick, Chiarot’s stick pushed the puck backwards first and into the net. This gave the Lightning their two-goal cushion back, crucially early in the third period.
ONDREJ PALAT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
BAT OUT OF MID-AIR. 3-1 #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/tgiYb4nWyi
Kucherov scores! Wait no, it’s another deflection. Wait, no again, they gave it back to Kuch. Off an offensive zone faceoff won by Brayden Point, Kucherov burst laterally past Jeff Petry and whipped a shot past Price. We were initially led to believe it was Kucherov’s goal, especially since it didn’t look like there was any appreciable deflection, but then the announcers said Point apparently got his stick ever so slightly on the puck and deflected it in, only for the official scoring page to leave it in Kucherov’s hands. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant shot from Kucherov, and the goal gave both he and Point two points on the night.
Kuch off the faceoff pic.twitter.com/0qS8qHgQMu— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
The Habs then tried to push back, namely with Gallagher getting into a shoving match with the Lightning in front of Vasilevskiy. Coleman knocked Gallagher’s helmet off as the two were grabbing at each other, before Sergachev tackled Gallagher down. The Habs forward got up with a lot of blood coming out of his head, and Coleman got a penalty for roughing.
Brendan Gallagher bloody after going head-first into the ice while fighting with Mikhail Sergachev pic.twitter.com/UVlerVbMgw— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Jesperi Kotkaniemi got hit by Cernak, and then the young Kotkaniemi retaliated, taking a penalty of his own with four minutes left in the game. The power play was a little more mellow as the main focus was to kill the two minutes without anything going back the other way. After a scrum near the net, Edmundson went after Gourde, cold-cocking him in the face, sending Edmundson to the box for another two with 2:40 left in the game.
With the 5-on-3, Captain Steven Stamkos took a blast from a short angle and beat Price, ending the Habs penalty kill streak. Kucherov and Point each got an assist, giving them both a three-point night.
Steven Stamkos from Nikita Kucherov on the power play. 5-1 Lightning #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/NK0OkDFXcU— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 29, 2021
Things got really dirty by the end, with the embarrassed Habs going after their pound of flesh. Shea Weber hacked at Kucherov from behind completely away from the puck. The refs made an attempt to settle things down, but then just stopped and let this all happen.
Things are just going— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 29, 2021
Kucherov slashed pic.twitter.com/0scglzoPro
MTL 1 at T.B 5— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) June 29, 2021
Tampa healthily better in every aspect all game long.
All game charts: https://t.co/UzxqrHnKvM pic.twitter.com/k2qwZoHdPN