A third period breakdown leads to the Tampa Bay Lightning falling to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning started out the game with all the fire and passion needed to win, but a third period breakdown led to the Lightning falling to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The moment the first puck dropped tonight at the Amalie Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning made it apparently clear that they were here to win and they would do whatever it takes to get the job done. In the first minute of play, the Lightning created plenty of scoring chances for themselves. Unfortunately for the Lightning, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was able to keep the puck out of the net.
On the other hand, a little adversity never hurt anyone. In fact, if you take the word of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos it actually helps you grow and become a better player. Keeping this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Tampa Bay Lightning was determined to push back just as hard.
It was only 4:31 seconds into the period when Alex Killorn would redirect a shot from Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman to give the Tampa Bay Lightning the ever-important first blood. The secondary assist on the goal was awarded to Valtteri Filppula.
One of the keys to the game that we outlined in our preview was that the Tampa Bay Lightning would need to come out of the tunnel with a fire in their souls and passion in their hearts. It is plain to see that this is exactly what the Lightning did when they took the ice tonight.
As the time continued to tick off the clock in the first period, the Tampa Bay Lightning continued to create opportunities for themselves. The Lightning found themselves with the first Power Play of the game as Andrew Shaw was sent off for Tripping Ondrej Palat. Tyler Johnson almost sunk the puck past Crawford to increase the Lightning’s lead, but Crawford was able to hold the line.
There was just about 5:35 left in the period when the Blackhawks would make a pretty solid, and nerve-wracking, run at the Tampa Bay Lightning net. Thankfully, the entire team seems to have taken on Stamkos’ “whatever it takes” mentality as Braydon Coburn dove in front of the puck, using his body to make the save.
The clock would show just over 3 minutes left in the first period when the Chicago Blackhawks would get their first crack at the Power Play. It would be Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison who would be sent to the sin bin for Cross Checking Hawks center Marcus Kruger.
While on the Power Play, Patrick Kane made a decent attempt at Ben Bishop, but Bishop was able to get a handle on the puck. Unfortunately, after the play Kane decided to take a little tap at Bishop with his stick. As you can imagine, this didn’t sit too well with Victor Hedman and some pushing and shoving proceeded behind the Lightning net.
The good news for the Tampa Bay Lightning is that much like the Blackhawk, they were able to kill the penalty. Unfortunately, this didn’t mean they were out of the woods just yet. The Blackhawks seemed to have found their game in the final few minutes of the period. The Lightning would have to neutralize this early in the second period if they wanted the momentum to stay on their side.
When the buzzer would sound and the period would end, the Tampa Bay Lightning would still lead the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. Through the first 20 minutes of play, the Lightning would set the tone outshooting the Blackhawks 10-7. The Bolts also owned the faceoff circle 14-5.
If the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to keep things like this, they would have to come out in the second period with the same fire and intensity they showed in the first period. This is a pretty lofty goal considering the amount of pressure the Lightning put on the Hawks in the first period, but if there is any team that could get the job done it is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
When the teams would hit the ice for the second period of play, both teams would exhibit the same intensity they had in the first period. Unfortunately, a simple mistake would find the Tampa Bay Lightning on the Penalty Kill in the early seconds of the period.
At just 28 seconds into the period, Alex Killorn, who scored the Lightning’s first goal, would find himself in the penalty box for High Sticking Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad. This is not exactly the position a team wants to find themselves in this early into a period, but thankfully for the Lightning they were able to kill the penalty successfully.
It didn’t take very long before a simple mistake on the part of the Tampa Bay Lightning would find them in the hot seat once again. Just before the halfway point in the period, the Tampa Bay Lightning would find themselves in the middle of a change when the Lightning would get called for Too Many Men on the Ice.
This is the same penalty the Lightning took in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. It is also something the Lightning are going to need to clean up if they want to hold on to the lead they created in the first period. On the bright side, the Lightning would be able to kill the penalty.
The Tampa Bay Lightning was doing a good job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone, but a simple miscue would lead to Anton Stralman losing control of the puck and it sailing into the neutral zone. Stralman would use his speed to keep up with the puck.
Hawks left wing Kris Versteeg would make an attempt to wrestle the puck free in front of Ben Bishop. Instead, he found himself caught in a nasty spill and on his way to the penalty box at the same time. As Versteeg attempted to play the puck, he tripped right over Bishop and slammed his face into the goal post.
Adding insult to injury, Versteeg would be called to the sin bin for Goaltender Interference. The only thing we can say about this is that we’re happy he wasn’t more severely injured. That gave us the same kind of chills as when Stamkos ran into the post last season and missed most of the season.
With just under two minutes left in the period, Alex Killorn would get the puck to Steven Stamkos. Stamkos, with the breakaway opportunity, would make fire a shot at Crawford, but much to the dismay of Lightning fans, it would be turned away by Corey Crawford, into the Lightning bench, and out of play.
When the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks would hit the ice for the third period of play, fans of both teams would have plenty to cheer about. Despite the Lightning catching the Blackhawks flatfooted in the first period, this game has been fairly evenly matched.
Both sides have created some pretty amazing chances for themselves, but neither side has been able to build upon the 1-0 lead the Tampa Bay Lightning set forth in the first period of play. That is…until the last seven minutes of the game.
Teuvo Teravainen would find himself in front of the Tampa Bay Lightning net, and while being screened by Valtteri Filppula in front, Ben Bishop had absolutely no chance of stopping the puck as it sailed over his shoulder and into the back of the net. This would tie the game with less than seven minutes remaining.
The onus would now be on the Tampa Bay Lightning to slam their feet on the gas once again and retake the lead before the final buzzer would sound and their hopes of bringing home a Game 1 win would fade into oblivion, or possibly overtime.
Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, things would go from bad to worse when a turnover in the defensive zone would lead to another goal from the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to center Antoine Vermette. This means the Blackhawks would get two goals in just 1:58. The Tampa Bay Lightning would need to get a hold of this game, and fast if they didn’t want to be shut down on home ice.
Around the three minute mark in the third period, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper would elect to pull Ben Bishop to allow for the extra attacker. Please excuse us for a moment while we go hide in this corner right here for the next three minutes.
Unfortunately, the extra attacker was what one would refer to as too little, too late. Much to the dismay of Tampa Bay Lightning fans, the Lightning would start out the Stanley Cup Finals 1-0. While this is certainly not the worst thing in the world that could happen, it is definitely not the ideal way to start a series.
The Tampa Bay Lightning knows what needs to be done in order to win. They exhibited that kind of play in the first two periods. Unfortunately, an inconsistent third period led to their ultimate downfall.
On the bright side, if there even is one in a situation like this one, there is a reason that this is a best of seven series. There are still six more games in front of them (if need be) for the Tampa Bay Lightning to get back on track and take control of this series.
Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning will head back into the Amalie Arena on Saturday night to do it all over again as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The puck will drop at a rather odd 7:15 p.m. EST start time.
What do you think was the Tampa Bay Lightning’s major pitfall in tonight’s game? What do you think the Lightning can take away from tonight’s loss and use to their advantage in Game 2? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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