The phenomenal play of the Dallas Stars is continuing into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Playing the role of underdog, the Stars defeated the Lightning by a score of 3-1. Coming into the series, the Lightning were the heavy favourites, but the Stars relish the role of being the underdog. Like they do always in close games, the Stars broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period on Jamie Oleksiak game-winning goal. From there the Dallas defence took over shutting down the speed of the Lightning. Anton Khudobin shut the door while Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson added some insurance to seal the victory.
Jamie Oleksiak Game Winner Is The Difference
Aggressive Forecheck and Active Defence
Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, both the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning had very good forechecks and active defencemen. However, early on in the game, it was the Stars forecheck that was dictating play. Dallas was relentless not giving the Lightning defence any chance to breathe. Knowing how well players like Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev can move the puck, the forwards knew they could not give them any time or space. The Stars dominated the game with their style of play. As we saw previously, if the Stars can dictate play with their defensive style of play, they have success. Having four days off certainly helped the Stars against the Lightning. Meanwhile, the Lightning were looking like a tired team. Considering they played one more game than they should have in the previous.
The aggressive forecheck and active defence of the Stars led to the opening goal. With Brayden Point waiting for his teammates to change, Stars forward Joel Kiviranta pressed the puck causing the turnover. This allowed Roope Hintz to pick up the puck and find Joe Hanley in the slot. Hanley did not mess around rifling one over the right shoulder of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. It seemed the Lightning had no answers for the Stars forecheck. The Stars dominated play in the second period tilting the ice in their favour. Dallas created numerous chances on the power play and five-on-five. John Klingberg and Esa Lindell were pinching every chance they could to keep the puck in the zone.
The Stars hard work paid off in the second period as they continued to pepper Vasilevskiy. Continuing to put pressure on Tampa Bay, the Stars entered the zone, and Alexander Radulov makes a beautiful pass to Jamie Oleksiak. From there Jamie Oleksiak skates into the slot putting a shot on the net. Staying with the play, Oleksiak gathers the puck and puts it up high over Vasilevskiy. Even though the Stars were dominating play, the Lightning were able to activate their defence too. On the tying goal, Ryan McDonagh pinched in allowing Blake Coleman to find Barclay Goodrow to set up Yanni Gourde to tie the game at 1-1 in the first period.
No Feeling Out Process
Usually, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup, there is a feeling-out process between two teams that have not met in several months. The last time the Stars and Lightning played was in January. Through the first several minutes of the game, both teams were trying to figure the other one out. However, once the first hit was given, the pleasantries went out the window The Lightning and Stars began to hate each other. To no one’s surprise, Corey Perry and Pat Maroon were involved in a scrum in front of the Stars bench. With Perry sitting on the puck, Maroon continued to poke at it to free it up. Perry did not take to kindly to that. Neither did the rest of his teammates and the first scrum happened with Maroon and Jamie Oleksiak having a shoving match.
One of the bigger hits of the game happened on the first Dallas goal when Kiviranta hit Lightning forward Point into the boards. Zach Bogosian was not happy about the hit. Instead of playing defence, he went after Kiviranta for the hit which allowed Joe Hanely to score the opener. After the first period of play, there were hits than shots on goal. That trend continued throughout the rest of the game. Any chance there was to make a hit, players on both teams were doing so to send messages.
Going forward in this series, the Lightning are going to have to figure out a way of stopping the Stars aggressive forecheck. This was the first time in the playoffs we saw Tampa Bay play on the heals. Even with the Lightning generating scoring chances later in the game, they allowed Dallas to dictate play. Instead of waiting for something to happen, the Lightning will need to create more offence. In addition to creating more offence, the Lightning need to get traffic in front of Khudobin. That is the only way they are going to score in this series. But that is difficult especially when a team like Dallas plays so good defensively. For the Stars, there is nothing to change. Dallas needs to keep playing their game. The Stars are frustrating the Lightning forwards. Similar to what they were doing in the previous rounds.
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