Tampa Bay Lightning Win Game 1, Stifle Montreal Canadiens Forecheck

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Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final saw the Tampa Bay Lightning win with a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. Game 2 between the teams is Wednesday night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern time.

The day of the first game of the Stanley Cup Final was busy for the Montreal fans. It started with Joel Armia, who had been put on the COVID Protocol List on Sunday, being taken off of it. Armia was able to travel to Tampa on a private jet but he didn’t suit up for the game. However, the good news for the Montreal team was that Jake Evans was ready to draw in. Monday’s game was his first time back since Game 1 of the second round, where he took a hit from Mark Scheifele that sidelined him for nine games since June 2.

Tampa Bay Lightning Win Game 1, Stifle Montreal Momentum

First Period

The Monday evening started quietly for the home team. Montreal was able to control the puck a lot better and create plays. Even with that, both teams were doing a good job at keeping each other away from the net. However, the Montreal rookie Cole Caufield knows how to take his chances and forced Andrei Vasilevskiy to make a big save early in the game on a freak play.

Even though the Canadiens had much better control of the game to start, the Lightning were the ones to strike first. After a very intelligent play by Brayden Point to stop a play inside his own zone, Erik Cernak opened the score on a deflection on a pass from Ondrej Palat. The goal made Tampa Bay wake up and they started generating better chances and making smarter plays that kept Carey Price on his toes.

A bad highlight for the visitors is their power play, which continues to struggle to generate the bare minimum. Montreal’s power-play units were tested after Barclay Goodrow took a cross-checking penalty but they were unable to get a shot on goal. After that, it was time for their penalty kill to be tested as Ben Chiarot took a roughing penalty with only 45 seconds left in the period. However, Tampa didn’t generate much during the first half of their man-advantage besides a good look from Alex Killorn right before the buzzer sounded.

Second Period

Montreal starts the period on the penalty kill, but their record is extended to 31/31 as the penalty expires and Tampa is unable to generate much. Right after that, Carey Price makes a huge save on Steven Stamkos, who’s left all alone in front of him. However, this seems to not be the visitors’ night as Blake Coleman makes it 2-0 at the six-minute mark. Once again, after the second goal, Tampa starts to generate a lot more quality chances and control the game.

As expected, the goaltenders are the biggest stars of Game 1 and Vasilevskiy continues to be perfect. Even though Montreal was unable to make clean offensive zone entries, Shea Weber forced the Tampa goaltender to make a huge save. However, he got some help from his teammates to extend his shutout streak. Killorn made a big (and probably painful) block on Jeff Petry after Victor Hedman lost his stick. Even with few chances and not much happening for the visitors, Ben Chiarot struck for Montreal. It was a lucky goal, with the puck bouncing around some players before getting deflected off of Ryan McDonagh‘s skate. The Chiarot goal seemed to fire up the Canadiens a little bit and they started generating more chances before the horn sounded.

Third Period

Montreal needed to start the third strong. However, Tampa had other ideas. Ondrej Palat scored two minutes into the third (the goal was later credited to Nikita Kucherov). Afterwards, not much happened in the period. Miraculously, the game was pretty quiet regarding penalties – again, the referees lost some obvious calls on both teams. Eric Staal and Cernak get involved in some pushing and shoving that end up on a 4-on-4 but once again not much was generated by either team. However, Kucherov strikes again with 8:35 left in the game and regains the two-goal advantage.

If things couldn’t get worse for Montreal, Brendan Gallagher leaves the ice bleeding after a bad play by Mikhail Sergachev. For the second time in the game, the Canadiens head to the power play and, once again, are unable to generate much. The momentum was forced the other way quickly, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and later Joel Edmundson taking penalties to send Tampa to a 5-on-3 advantage. Montreal killed that part off, but with the remaining power-play time, Stamkos beat Price short-side to make it a 5-1 game. It ended Montreal’s penalty-killing streak that lasted since Game 4 of their First Round series against Toronto. Kucherov’s assist meant a three-point period for the Russian star, putting a bow on a successful night for the Lightning. It was a dominant Tampa Bay Lightning win as they look for the repeat.

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