Well that was disappointing. The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 1 on the road to the New York Rangers to fall 0-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Rangers beat the Lightning 6-2 with Filip Chytil scoring twice with four other Rangers players having multi-point nights.
The Lightning looked flat from the get-go and never found their footing. Andrei Vasilevskiy looked average, allowing all six goals on 34 shots. Stamkos and Palat scored the goals for the Lightning as the Bolts power play went 0/3. The Rangers power play meanwhile scored on one of their two chances.
The game was very flat in terms of penalties, with only one power play being given over the first two periods. But in the final two minutes there was a line brawl and eight minors for roughing were handed out, with an extra for old friend Barclay Goodrow for cross-checking.
Tampa Bay’s game plan is to shut down the Rangers offense. Once they failed to do that after falling behind 4-2, the game was out of reach. The Lightning will need to be much more controlling of the front of the net. They looked slow.
Kreider scored in the first minute of the game on a stretch pass creating an odd-man play. Hedman stepped up, Kucherov didn’t back him up, and Bogosian played a shot even though Zibanejad was running out of angle. Poor mistakes all around.
Stamkos gave us a junior hockey goal by blasting a massive shot from the point cleanly past Shesterkin. Wow.
The Lightning had a good first period in terms of shots (20-14), but they were very much playing with fire against the Rangers offense. They were allowing a lot against a team they really can’t be giving so many chances.
Frank Vatrano returned the lead to the Rangers after the Lightning coasted by all their assignments and then caught themselves deep in the zone afraid of passing plays. Vatrano took advantage of the chaos and beat Vasilevskiy with a high shot.
Vasy wasn’t all bad in this game (especially in the first half), keeping the Lightning in it with some big stops like this one while down only one.
Palat made the most of it thanks to a creative backhand pass from Stamkos to make the most of those Vasy saves, bringing the Lightning back in the game.
And then Chytil buried the Bolts with his two goals to close out the period within five minutes of each other. First was this one-timer after the Lightning got hemmed in their own zone for a long while. Lafreniere and Kakko have some real skill.
Another long shift in the defensive zone from the Rangers kid line, this one assisted by K’Andre Miller.
A bad period for the Lightning, who spent more time in their own zone without the puck than should be acceptable from this team. They also lost the shot battle (19-26) and the expected goals battle (35%) showing they just didn’t have possession or control of their own slot.
Early in the third period, Panarin scoring within the first minute. Bogosian whiffed on a puck as he was reaching forward and Panarin super-starred the puck in the net.
Zibanejad closed out the game with a power play goal a few minutes later.