TAMPA — Hugs and kisses and playing nice. That's something you don't normally associate with a hockey game, especially a playoff hockey game. But that's part of the story from Boston's 6-2 victory in the opening game of the series against the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
And speaking of something you don't normally see, something happened in Game 1 that was so rare that the players and, perhaps, even the officials weren't even sure what to do. So rare, in fact, that the league had to put out an official statement during the game.
So, to recap, here's the grades from Game 1:.
A first time for everything
They say baseball is the one sport where you are most likely to see something you've never seen before. Well, something happened in Saturday that I've never seen before. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask had a skate blade knocked off by a shot. It's not uncommon for a skater (a forward or defenseman) to lose a skate blade, but it's incredibly rare for it to happen to a goalie. Like I said, I've never seen it.
The Lightning took advantage when Mikhail Sergachev scored while Rask was helplessly floundering on the ice. Rask lost his mind, arguing that the play should have been stopped, even while play was still going on. But the NHL put out a statement saying that there is no rule for the game to be stopped because a goalie loses a skate blade. After the game, Rask said he just was looking for an explanation. Grade: C for crazy.
Speaking of Rask, he whipped his broken skate blade in anger after giving up the goal, but made sure to tell everyone after the game, "Well, I didn't throw it at anybody.'' That's true. He didn't throw it at anybody. "If I did, then I apologize,'' Rask said. Rask's broken blade bounced harmlessly off the boards and never left the ice or flew into the crowd, contrary to some reports. But give Rask credit for apologizing. Just in case. Grade: B.
Missing the Point
Poor Brayden Point. No one on the Lightning had a worse day. At least statistically. The Lightning center, given the unenviable task of trying to slow down Boston's monster line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand , was a minus-5 for the game. But I say "poor'' Brayden Point because he really shouldn't be blamed for Boston's top line going crazy with a combined three goals and eight assists. "I'm not going to sit here and blame one of those goals on Point,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. Grade: C
The Lightning's in-house game presentation is second to none in the NHL. A fan favorite is the Kiss Cam. You know how it works. Couples are put on the screen and they are expected to kiss. (Actually, now that I think about it, that's kind of weird. But still fun.) Anyway, the Lightning folks blew a golden chance to have the ultimate kisser on screen: Boston forward Brad Marchand, who allegedly kissed an opponent in a game this season. Hey, Bolts, you still have Game 2. Grade: D.
A feel-good ending
Know what was nice to see? That the game didn't turn into a WWE Royal Rumble in the final few minutes with Boston up by four goals. It's not unusual for playoff games to turn into a battle royale and total chaos when one team is getting blown out, all in the name of "sending a message'' for the next game. (That's so dumb. You want to send a message? Go out and win the game.) In fact, other than the usual pushing and shoving after a couple of whistles, Saturday's game was pretty tame and cleanly played. Only a total of eight penalty minutes for the entire game. Game 1 was two skilled teams playing like two skilled teams and not a bunch of knuckleheads. Grade: A.
Contact Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tomwjones.