TAMPA | We suspected it, but we had good proof, Monday night, at the Amalie Arena. Tackling the Lightning will be no small task for the Canadiens.
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Rising the curtain of this Stanley Cup final, the Floridians won a relatively easy 5-1 victory over the Habs. They took advantage of these 60 minutes to demonstrate the full extent of their arsenal.
Nikita Kucherov, whose health was uncertain since a rib injury suffered in Game 6 against the New York Islanders, led the charge with two goals and one assist. The Russian forward has an impressive 30 points since the start of the series.
In full possession of their means and the puck, the Lightning players buzzed relentlessly around Carey Price’s net. Passes in the enclave, cross passes, transitions to defenders, Luke Richardson’s men sometimes seemed stunned.
“The Lightning didn’t take us by surprise, we knew they were a fast team, applying pressure. We need to manage the puck better. It’s a team that thrives on turnovers and transitions, ”said defenseman Jeff Petry.
Despite everything, the visitors, thanks to the first goal of Ben Chiarot’s career in the playoffs, were still in the game after two periods. But as the cream always turns up, the defending Stanley Cup champions put the game out of their rivals’ reach with three unanswered goals in the third period.
Where it hurts
Plus, unlike the Canadiens’ top three rivals, there are forwards in the other locker room willing to pay the price and cash in on double-failures from Shea Weber, Chiarot and Joel Edmundson to increase their scoring chances.
This is exactly where Yanni Gourde was, after forging his way between Jon Merrill and Chiarot, when he scored his sixth goal of the playoffs.
The same can be said of Erik Cernak. The defender was rushing towards Carey Price when he deftly deflected Ondrej Palat’s pass.
What we noticed …
A rare goal
Erik Cernak’s goal was only the fourth scored by a Lightning defenseman since the start of the playoffs. Known for his offensive qualities, Victor Hedman scored only one. On the other hand, he was an accomplice of his teammates on 15 occasions. It was Cernak’s first career goal in 46 playoff games.
Highway in the enclave
The Lightning is the first team since the New York Islanders in 1981 to make the final with a winning percentage over 37%. We could understand why. Cross passes between Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are difficult to intercept.
La mitaine de Vasilevskiy
The new technique in vogue among goalkeepers is to place the mitt closer to the discus wearer than the rest of his body. This way, you can cut a larger angle at the top. Andrei Vasilevskiy masters this technique to perfection. That’s what allowed him to stop Shea Weber and Josh Anderson’s shots from mitten saves that seemed easy.
We stay calm
The Canadian is therefore trailing 1-0 in this series. Even if the team that takes away the honors in the first game of the final wins 75.3% of the time, the last three Stanley Cup champions had missed the first meeting.
20:00 – End of the third period.
18:50 – BUT! Steven Stamkos added another goal with a receiving pitch, this time on the power play.
15:51 – Jesperi Kotkaniemi is chased for high stick in place of Erik Cernak.
13:42 – Blake Coleman is punished for being rude to Brendan Gallagher.
11:25 – BUT! Nikita Kucherov hurts the Canadians with a perfect pitch from the slot to the top corner.
02:00 – BUT! Ondrej Palat gave his team a two-goal lead by hitting the puck on the fly.
00:00 – Beginning of the third third.
20:00 – The Lightning have a 19-14 throwing lead after two periods of play.
17:40 – BUT! The Canadian closed the gap after a veiled shot from the tip of Ben Chiarot.
11:55 – Carey Price keeps the Canadian in the game with a spectacular stopper against Tyler Johnson.
05:47 – BUT! Blake Coleman doubles the lead of his team with a veiled shot from the enclave.
03:30 – Carey Price made a superb mitt save against Steven Stamkos.
00:00 – Beginning of the middle period.
20:00 – The Lightning had a 7-5 shot advantage in the first period.
19:14 – Ben Chiarot is kicked out for stabbing Nikita Kucherov in the face.
15:21 – Barclay Goodrow is punished for a double check against Brendan Gallagher.
10:00 – The two teams have already applied around thirty checks in the game, in total.
06:19 – Erik Cernak scores the first goal of the series as he deftly deflects a perfect pass from Ondrej Palat behind Carey Price.
00:00 – Beginning of the meeting.