In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks proved it’s going to take more than one goal by the Lightning to keep them down.
If anything was learned in the opening game of this year’s Stanley Cup Final, it was that finishing the job remains priority number one.
In previous final matchups, the norm was for both teams to feel each other out in the opening minutes. Well, the Tampa Bay Lightning went against that norm.
In fact, they took it to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Right from the opening puck drop, the team from down south played fast and aggressive, something that had not changed under head coach John Cooper during these playoffs. Through the first 11 minutes, the Lightning outshot the Blackhawks 8-2, keeping Corey Crawford on his toes.
At 15:29, Alex Killorn (8) backhanded the puck out of the air and it got it past the pads of Crawford. It was the perfect blend of skill and opportunistic play. For Crawford, it was one of those goals that no one expects and nothing you could do. Assists went to Valteri Filppula (9), who shielded his man and kept the puck alive in the offensive zone, allowing a play to develop. After a shot towards the net from Anton Stralman (7), the magic happened.
The relatively young, upstart Lightning team seemed unnerved for a majority of the game. Their penalty killers shutout the Blackhawks man-advantage 0/3, especially on the second and third power plays, and didn’t allow much, if any, room for Chicago to make any plays near Bishop.
However, the Blackhawks showed everyone that you can’t let them play in your defensive zone.
The third period was taken over by the team from the “windy city,” with a little help from the Lightning playing prevent defense. They outshot Tampa Bay 8-5, after trailing in that department 18-13 through the first two periods.
However, Tampa Bay almost made it a two-goal deficit when Crawford stoned Ryan Callahan on a breakaway one-on-one play. It was identical to the play he scored in the Eastern Conference Final against the Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
The game was tied off the stick of Teuvo Teravaninen (3) with 6:32 left in the third period. After Duncan Keith protected the puck, he passed back to a waiting Teravainen, who one-timed the puck past the right shoulder of Bishop.
The game-winning goal was scored off a bad turnover in the middle of the ice. With under five minutes left in the period, Tervainen poked the puck off the Lightning’s forward J.T. Brown, and was collected by Antoine Vermette who wristed a shot over the left shoulder of 6’7 goaltender.
With those two goals, it seemed to take the sunshine out of the Lightning fans in Amalie Arena.
After what looked like the Lightning would make a statement in this series by keeping their opponent bottled up, the Blackhawks made a statement of their own by scoring late and pulling the carpet from under the team from Florida.
The seasoned Blackhawks may have also taught the young and inexperienced Lightning a lesson: PLAY THE FULL 60.
NHL’s three Stars of the Game:
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