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Nikita Kucherov scored two goals and Erik Cernak, Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos had one apiece as the Lightning beat the Canadiens 5-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final Monday at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay moved to within three victories of winning its second consecutive Cup.
Cernak redirected a Palat pass past Montreal goaltender Carey Price in the first period, and Gourde deflected a Blake Coleman shot into the net in the second.
After the Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot scored from the right point late in the second period, Kucherov restored the Lightning’s two-goal lead by putting a puck on net from the right sideboards in the third. Kucherov scored his second goal from the slot after a Brayden Point faceoff win, and Stamkos added a power-play goal late.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced.
Here’s how it happened:
LIGHTNING GOAL! Ondrej Palat knocks a puck into the net after Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot batted it out of the air. The play started when Nikita Kucherov backhanded a puck on net from near the right sideboards. Lightning 3, Canadiens 1.
Cernak and Staal receive roughing penalties, and we’ll have 4-on-4 play for two minutes
Back to 5-on-5
Perry redirect of Petry shot from the left point misses high
Petry shot from the center point misses the net
Lehkonen shot deflects wide
LIGHTNING GOAL! Kucherov whips a shot from the slot over Price’s glove after a Brayden Point faceoff win in the Canadiens end. Ondrej Palat picked Tyler Toffoli to open the shooting lane. It was Tampa Bay’s second goal of the period on three shots. Lightning 4, Canadiens 1.
Gallagher leaves for the locker room after Sergachev takes him head-first into the ice after Coleman ripped off his helmet. Coleman is penalized for roughing
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Suzuki shot is wide of the net
Goodrow clears the puck out of the zone
Hedman blocks Suzuki shot
Hedman clears the puck
Lightning kill the Coleman penalty
Kotkaniemi penalized for high-sticking Cernak, likely in retaliation after taking a knee from Cernak to the face while down on the ice
Johnson shot from the right circle saved by Price
Edmundson penalized for roughing Gourde
SCORING CHANGE: Palat’s goal now credited to Kucherov
LIGHTNING GOAL! Steven Stamkos scores on the power play. Lightning 5, Canadiens 1.
(Lightning win 5-1)
Lightning will carry over the power play from the end of the first period
Point shot from the slot just misses the net
Canadiens kill the penalty
Vasilevskiy stops Caufield shot from low in the left circle
McDonagh shot bounces into the crease and is covered by Price
Vasilevskiy covers Gallagher shot
Chiarot shot from the left point hits the post with Corey Perry setting a screen in front of the Lightning net
Price makes a glove save to rob Steven Stamkos from low in the right circle
LIGHTNING GOAL! Blake Coleman’s shot from the slot deflects off Yanni Gourde, who was setting a screen in front, into the net. Coleman picked up a Goodrow shot from the high slot that had been blocked. The play started with a turnover by Gallagher at the offensive blue line. Lightning 2, Canadiens 0.
Wow. Vasilevskiy makes a glove save on Shea Weber, who tried to go top shelf from low in the left circle on a breakaway
Stamkos backhand shot goes up out of play
Palat shot high of the net
Cernak shot from the right point blocked in front
McDonagh shot from the left point deflects wide
Tyler Johnson backhand shot blocked by Price’s right pad
SCORING CHANGE: The second Lightning goal has been awarded to Gourde
After Hedman loses his stick behind the Lightning net, Killorn gives him his, then lays out to block a shot from the right point off the heel of his left skate.
Price turns away a Gourde shot off an odd-man rush
Sergachev shot blocked in front
Big hit by Palat on Chiarot, who has to leave the ice because he loses his helmet
Palat wrist shot saved by Price
CANADIENS GOAL: Ben Chiarot’s shot from the right point deflects off two players into the net. Shea Weber knocked down a Lightning pass at the blue line to start the rush up ice. Lightning 2, Canadiens 1.
McDonagh hustles back to break up Gallagher scoring opportunity
Cole Caufield shot from the high slot off the rush misses high. Caufield skated right and shot left, and Vasilevskiy seemed to have trouble tracking the puck.
Jeff Petry shot from the side boards covered by Vasilevskiy
Carey Price makes save after Victor Hedman shot goes off Joel Edmundson’s skate
Anthony Cirelli wrist shot saved by Price
Vasilevskiy makes right toe save on Brendan Gallagher wrist shot from low in the right circle
Price stops Brayden Point shot from the right circle
Vasilevskiy makes save on Shea Weber shot
Tyler Toffoli shot from the high slot misses the net after a turnover at the Lightning blue line
Vasilevskiy makes a blocker save on Caufield shot from the center point
Price makes glove save on Hedman shot
LIGHTNING GOAL! Erik Cernak, from between the hashmarks, redirects an Ondrej Palat shot from above the left circle. Brayden Point started the rush by intercepting a pass on the backcheck and passing out of the defensive zone. Lightning 1, Canadiens 0.
Cernak partially blocks Jake Evans shot from the right circle
Ben Chiarot with a hard hit on Barclay Goodrow
Vasilevskiy makes save on Arrturi Lehkonen, and then Victor Hedman and Gallagher go at it after Gallagher tried to push Hedman into Vasilevskiy
Price saves David Savard shot from the right point
Mikhail Sergachev shot misses the net
Goodrow penalized for cross-checking Gallagher with 4:39 left in the period, and the Canadiens go on the power play
Cirelli shorthanded shot from the slot on 3-on-2 break deflected wide after Gustafsson turned the puck over at the blue line
Lightning clear the puck out of the zone
Goodrow returns as the Lightning kill the penalty. No Canadiens shots with the man-advantage
Phillip Danault backhand shot misses the net after a turnover by Ryan McDonagh
Palat shot from above the left circle misses wide
Chiarot penalized for cross-checking Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning get a power play with 46 seconds left in the period
Kucherov fans on a shot attempt from the right circle
Kucherov looks for redirect from Killorn in front
Canadiens clear the puck
(Lightning lead 1-0 after one period)
Pregame scouting report
When you’ve got goaltenders as talented as the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Canadiens’ Carey Price meeting in the Stanley Cup final, there is a temptation to want to reduce the NHL’s championship series to a matchup between the two.
Vasilevskiy, the best goalie in the world, gave Tampa Bay a sizable advantage in net in each of its first three playoff series. But that edge will be reduced significantly against Price, who previously held that title.
So, while there is certainly merit to that story line, it’s not as simple as that.
Okay, yes, it’s also the defending Stanley Cup champion against the team with the worst regular-season record in the playoff field. But as Montreal showed in beating Vegas — whose 82 points tied Colorado for most in the league — it’s not a team to be taken lightly.
And the Canadiens, who have won 11 of their past 13 games, play a similar tight-checking, defense-first, counterattacking style to that employed by the Islanders, who pushed the Lightning to seven games in the semifinal round.
While Montreal has nowhere near the offensive firepower Tampa Bay does, it also rolls out four lines, the first (Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Artturi Lehkonen) of which neutralized the top scorers from Toronto (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner), Winnipeg (Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler) and Vegas (Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty) in the first three rounds.
The Canadiens also have the postseason’s top penalty kill, one operating at a 93.5-percent success rate. But they have yet to face a power play with the number of options the Lightning’s top unit presents, including postseason scoring leader Nikita Kucherov, playoff goals leader Brayden Point and sniper Steven Stamkos.
Tampa Bay, playing in its third Cup final in the past seven seasons, has a considerable advantage in playoff experience. Montreal, which last won the Cup in 1993, was knocked out in the first round last season and failed to make the playoffs in three of the previous four.
The Lightning, meanwhile, hope to join the 2016-17 Penguins as the only teams to win back-to-back Cups in the salary-cap era. And unlike last season, they have captain Stamkos back in the lineup and will be playing in front of their home fans, starting with Game 1 tonight at Amalie Arena.
Are the Bolts still hungry for more?
We’ll find out tonight, starting at 8 p.m., as the Lightning hope to earn the first of four wins needed to secure their second consecutive Cup and third in franchise history.
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