With the stage set, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to start the Stanley Cup Finals on a high note. Led by goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Dallas Stars showed this series will not be easy and the Lightning will need to wake up the offense in order to prevent the Stars from stealing the series in the long run. For the most part, the defense did their job, but the lack of production on the power play is a major concern for the Lightning that should be addressed for the future.
The Dallas Stars took early command of the game heavily out-shooting the Lightning, and playing tight defense. The Lightning defense would be tested early and often, and Dallas eventually took advantage by opening the scoring for a 1-0 lead. Joel Hanley went top corner on Andrei Vasilevskiy to open the scoring for the Stars, on his first career goal in the NHL. Tampa would then look to get an equalizer before Dallas tried to extend the lead.
A roughing call on Patrick Maroon and Jamie Oleksiak at first would not seem like much, but for Tampa it would be the wake up call they were looking for. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4, but the Lightning found an answer to the Stars’ defense minutes later. Blake Coleman’s shot rebounded off Anton Khudobin, bounced off Yanni Gourde’s skate, and then went in off of Roope Hintz’s skate for the goal. Tampa seemed to get their offense rolling again to end the period and looked to preform better in the second.
Penalty kill shuts down Dallas
The second period saw the Lightning penalty kill tested early as Coleman was called for slashing on Jason Dickinson. Tampa had no troubles killing off the penalty, but would once again have to kill another penalty by Coleman. Tampa wanted a call on Dallas instead for holding the stick, but the officials only called the penalty on Coleman and play resumed. The Lighting penalty kill again got the job done and prevented the Stars from adding to the lead. The Stars’ defense again did a solid job of shutting down the Lightning’s offense, while the Lightning’s defense continued to struggle.
Defense struggles to keep up
Dallas took advantage of defensive miscues by the Lightning and Oleksiak gave the Stars a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy. The offense finally looked alive for the remainder of the period as Tampa had some solid scoring opportunities, but could not get a puck past Khudobin. Dallas would add to their lead late in the period courtesy of Joel Kiviranta. It is a goal Vasilevskiy probably wished to have back as it beat him under his arm.
Offense shows improvement
The Lightning started the period without Maroon following what occurred after the second period concluded. Maroon shot the puck into the Stars’ bench, leading to a 10-minute misconduct. Despite the loss of Maroon, Tampa’s offense kept the pressure early on the Stars’ defense. Three power plays awaited the Lightning in the period, but again, the team failed to score with the man-advantage.
Dallas ices the cake
Tampa Bay kept the pressure going, but Khudobin continued to resemble a brick wall. With four minutes to go, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy in hopes of tying the game quickly. A bold strategy that ultimately failed, and Dallas took Game 1 with a 4-1 victory. The Lightning will look to find an answer to Khudobin in Game 2 Monday night.
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star – Anton Khudobin: Stopped 35 shots on 36 attempts
2nd Star – Jamie Oleksiak: 1 goal, 6 blocks, and 6 hits
3rd Star – Joel Hanley: Scored the opening goal
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