Tampa Bay takes advantage of Montreal mistakes to win Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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The Tampa Bay Lightning struck first. And often. And by the time it was over, the Lighting had beaten the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Monday night in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning basically did to the Montreal Canadiens what the Canadiens had done to everyone throughout their run from Cinderella to the championship series. They created an offense from turnovers, played a stifling defense, and let their goalie do the rest.

Steve Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde and Erik Cernak have scored for the Lightning, who seek back-to-back titles. Ben Chiarot scored for Montreal, seeking his 25th overall title, but his first since 1993.

“We didn’t do our best,” said Canadiens interim head coach Luke Richardson. “We know we can play better.

The international flavor of the game – a Canadian team versus an American team – led Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden to accept a friendly bet on Twitter. Bet details weren’t immediately available, but a poutine for Philly cheesesteak would be appropriate if they’re looking for ideas.

Kucherov’s goal, which gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead two minutes into the third period, was odd. It was a blow from the board that Chiarot escaped. Ondrej Palat slipped on it, but hit Chiarot’s stick, which hit the puck. The game began when Mikhail Sergachev snatched the puck from Cole Caufield in the neutral zone.

Point deflected another Kucherov shot after a face-off for a 4-1 lead just over nine minutes later.

Things deteriorated a bit as the lead widened. There was a scrum in the end of Tampa in which Brendan Gallagher found himself with a bloodstained face, falling to the ice without his helmet as he faced off against Sergachev.

Penalties piled up after that, with Stamkos converting on a 18:50 stopwatch. It was Montreal’s first power play goal since Game 4 against Toronto, for a period of 32 penalties.

“We know the quality of the opponent we have,” said Stamkos. “It’s a great team. They are here for a reason. We have a game plan and we have a recipe, and if we go for it, we think that if we do the right things, we will be rewarded for it and we have done it so far. “

Montreal managed to eliminate the top scorers of the other teams on the way to the final. But not in Game 1 against Tampa.

“I can’t speak for the other teams,” Stamkos said. “Point’s line with Kucherov and Palat is an elite for a reason… and they’ve been in that position before.”

“It’s a game in a seven game series,” said Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry. “We have to use what we did in Vegas, that experience, that mindset, to bounce back for Game 2.”

  • Good start: The start of the game lived up to the hype that the Stanley Cup Final deserves. Two former Vezina winners started in goal, with Carey Price supporting a defensive-minded side who have proven they can score when needed and Andrei Vasilevskiy behind an attacking spirit who has learned how good defense is. important.

Both goalies made big saves early and players on both sides bravely blocked big shots – Alex Killorn in particular could sport a new bruise – and offended in surprising moments.

Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead in 40 minutes, jumping on two Montreal turnovers for their goals. That alone was surprising, because Montreal had been the team that usually scored first and usually jumped on turnovers. So they saw each other.

Cernak joined the race and was rewarded with his first goal in 20 games, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead at just 6:19 of the first period. It was only the fifth time in 18 games that Montreal failed to score the first goal. The first objective seems important. The Canadiens were 1-3 when the other team scored the first goal in the first three rounds. They were 11-2 when they scored first. The Lightning was 12-2 when he scored the opening goal, advancing to the final.

The two teams traded goals in the second. Gourde got the credit for the goal that put Tampa Bay up 2-0 at 5:47, although it was Blake Coleman following the run who got the shot. Gourde hijacked him.

Montreal had a hiatus. Chiarot got lucky at 5:40 pm when his slap shot deflected various Tampa Bay defenders twice to beat Vasilevskiy. It was Chiarot’s fourth goal in the playoffs. The Lightning led in shots, 19-14, in two periods.

  • Guardian fight: This is the first time that two goalkeepers with Vézinas on their CV have faced each other in the final since 1999 (Dominik Hasek against Ed Belfour).

“Carey is obviously a great goalie, one of the best in the NHL, so I’ll give him my best for sure. I just have to stick to the plan and keep doing what I have done so far, ”Vasilevskiy said.

“He’s playing really well,” Price said of Vasilevskiy. “He’s a big body, he fights hard. It’s kind of the same story with every goalie – we’ll just have to get some traffic and take a few rebounds. “

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  • Home-ice advantage: The Lightning are trying to win back-to-back Cup titles. Last year was a little different, being in a bubble in Edmonton with no fans. This year? Lots of fans, and that could make all the difference, Coleman said.

“We know how difficult it is to get here. We’re very excited, obviously. There’s a little bit of a different buzz just knowing that, we’re opening this in front of our home fans, ”Coleman said. “We know the city is behind us, it’s electric here. There are Tampa flags wherever there are people, neighbors, etc. Everyone is excited about what’s going on here so it’s fun to share it with people.

“We really just met last year, which was another unique experience (and) obviously a great experience, just to have this intimate experience with the team. It’s a nice change of pace here to have fans and to have people from the community being a part of it. You know the game is about sharing it with your community and feeling that energy and excitement. “

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