Lightning ride power play to Game One victory over Toronto, 7-3.

Lightning ride power play to Game One victory over Toronto, 7-3.
Darren Raddysh. Photo compliments of Tampa Bay Lightning via Twitter (@TBLightning)

In a reversal from last season's Game One, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning that blew out the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening match of their first round series. Six different Lightning players found the back of the net as they jumped to an early three-goal lead, and then after seeing the lead cut to one, scored the next four on their way to a 7-3 victory.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare opened the scoring just over a minute into the game and goals from Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov made it 3-0 at the end of one. Power play goals from Ryan O'Reilly and William Nylander, made it close, but goals from Brayden Point, Corey Perry, and Point again made it 6-2 at the end of two. Ross Colton and Calle Jarnkrok exchanged goals in the third to finish off the scoring.

Andrei Vasilevskiy ended the night with 28 saves on 31 shots while Ilya Samsonov stopped 23 of 29 through two before being replaced by Joseph Woll who stopped 4 of 5 in the third period.

The Lightning win was tampered a bit by injuries to Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak, and Michael Eyssimont while Toronto's Michael Bunting is likely to hear from the Department of Player Safety following a hit to Cernak's head. The Lightning scored twice on the five-minute power play assessed to Bunting and finished the night 4-for-8 with the extra skater.

The Lines:

First Period:

It's unlikely that the Lightning could have scripted a better start to the game. Not only did they rack up the first six shot attempts, they also found the back of the net. As an added bonus, it was the fourth line, a line that came nowhere near matching the production they generated last year, that got it. Corey Perry forced a turnover in the Maple Leafs zone and then shot it on Ilya Samsonov who awkwardly fought it off. The rebound landed on the stick of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who slid it under the goaltender's pad for the lead just 1:18 into the game.

The goal silenced an excited Scotiabank crowd and allowed the Lightning to settle into the type of game they wanted to play. As they continued to play most of the game on the Toronto side of the ice, they were the more aggressive team in winning puck battles and controlling the front of the net.

Samsonov was stopping shots, but it wasn't clean. He was jabbing at the puck with his body and leaving a lot of rebounds. The Lightning needed to capitalize on the opportunities, something they haven't done a lot of when they've had the chance. Tonight it was different, Β as Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Hagel absolutely hounded the puck leading to the second goal.

A shot from Hagel to confusion in front of the net after another bad rebound from the goaltender and Cirelli swatted it home to double the lead. If the Bellemare goal had quieted the crowd, Cirelli's goal turned it into a tomb.

The Leafs aren't going to roll over though. The always dangerous Auston Matthews' line found their footing and challenged the Lightning net from afar. Vasilevskiy was stout in net, and unlike his counterpart, wasn't allowing much in the way of second opportunities.

Oddly, it was a Lightning power play that swing the momentum a bit midway through the period. The Bolts had a couple of good looks, first from Perry (who was outstanding in the period) and then from a redirection in front of the net from the first unit. After the power play expired, the Leafs had their best pressure of the game, but couldn't solve the Big Cat.

Another power play for the Lightning late in the period cashed in. After T.J. Brodie was sent off for holding, the first unit kept the puck in the zone and worked the puck over to Nikita Kucherov. The playmaker chose to shoot the puck and he wired one right past Mark Giordano and Samsonov for the 3-0 lead with under 3 seconds to go.

The crowd wasn't silent, instead a quiet chorus of boos radiated out from the seats as the players headed to the locker rooms.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Cory Perry) 1-0 Lightning

Anthony Cirelli (Brandon Hagel) 2-0 Lightning

Nikita Kucherov (Mikhail Sergachev, Alex Killorn) Power Play, 3-0 Lightning

Second Period

The expected push came from the Leafs to start the period, but more worrisome was Erik Cernak wincing in pain after blocking a shot with his arm. Then Victor Hedman was shown walking down the tunnel just before Morgan Reilly broke up a two-on-one between Cirelli and Hagel.

Cernak would return in time to knock Michael Bunting to the ground, and headed to the box for roughing. With Hedman still off the ice (he would not return), this was a huge moment in the game.

It didn't take long for Toronto to capitalize. After a rather easy entry into the zone Ian Cole went down in front of the net a little too soon and John Tavares was able to slide the puck over to an open Ryan O'Reilly who beat Vasilevskiy cleanly.

The Lightning bounced back with two solid shifts and then drew a penalty on their third following the goal. Intense pressure from the first unit was met by several blocked shots by the Leafs' penalty killers but a late two-on-one for Toronto led to Ross Colton taking a penalty.

This time it was William Nylander who picked his spot. The 40-goal scorer waited patiently for a traffic to develop in front of Vasilevskiy before wiring it past Vasilevskiy.

Right after the goal, Jake McCabe, who had already thrown a few hits, put his shoulder right into the chest of Michael Eyssimont. As the play continued, David Kampf took a trip to the box and Eyssimont went to the dressing room.

With things kind of spiraling, it was Kucherov and Brayden Point that steadied things. A nice pass from Kucherov found Point off of the board. Point waited and found a spot in the back of the net.

While the McCabe hit on Eyssimont appeared to be clean, Michael Bunting's elbow to Erik Cernak was not. Bunting was assessed a match penalty and the Lightning had a five-minute power play. Unlike, in last year's Game One, the Bolts would take advantage.

It wasn't pretty, but it was pretty effective. With Ross Colton at the near post, Corey Perry fired it at the goal. Both Lightning players jabbed at it and raised their hands in the air. Referee Wes McCauley pointed at the goal indicating it was a good goal. Video review somehow confirmed that it went across the line. The lead was back to three goals with Perry getting credit.

Toronto then challenged for goaltender interference for some reason. It was not. So, not only were they down 5-2 on the scoreboard, they were down 5-on-3 on the ice. The Lightning were methodical with the two-skater advantage and Toronto was able to survive the first part of the penalty.

They didn't survive the second part as Brayden Point slid a backhander through Samsonov with just 1.9 seconds to go in the period. An absolute dagger to end the period.

Ryan O'Reilly (John Tavares, Mitch Marner) Power Play, 3-1 Lightning

William Nylander (Auston Matthews, John Tavares) Power Play, 3-2 Lightning

Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli) Power Play, 4-2 Lightning

Corey Perry (Ross Colton) Power Play, 5-2 Lightning

Brayden Point (Corey Perry, Nikita Kucherov) Power Play, 6-2 Lightning

Third Period

As one might expect Ilya Samsonov's night ended after allowing 6 goals on 29 shots. In came Joseph Woll to defend the net for the final 20 minutes of the night. The Cirelli line tested him early with a good shift, but the action shifted back to the Lightning side of the ice when Sergachev was called for a retaliatory slash.

The Lightning killed off the penalty fairly easily and then added to their lead as Nick Perbix slung a long pass to spring Colton on a breakaway. Colton beat Woll cleanly to make it 7-2.

Toronto didn't let up and a turnover in the neutral zone led to a nifty passing play by Matthews and Mitch Marner that ended up with a tap-in goal for Calle Jarnkrok. Ten goals in Game One, it'll be hilarious when there aren't 10 goals scored over the next three games.

At this point, both teams really just wanted the clock to keep running. The Lightning wanted to get to the clubhouse with the win and no more injuries while the Leafs just wanted to hit the reset button and get ready for Game Two. Woll, who was likely auditioning for a start, did make a nice stop on Nick Paul who continues to try and snap his goalless streak.

The game drifted to an end with no more injuries for the Lightning and no more goals allowed for the Leafs. The Lightning drew first blood in the series, but it is far from over. The two teams will meet again on Thursday for Game Two.

Ross Colton (Nick Perbix, Ian Cole) 7-2 Lightning

Calle Jarnkrok (Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews) 7-3 Lightning