Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs we’ll be keeping track of all the action around the league, and bringing you all of the results in one place.
The Stanley Cup Final kicked off last night, and it was a well rested Stars team that came out strong in this one, and really had the Lightning looking rattled through much of the early goings. They got themselves on the board early, as some strong offensive pressure led to a goal by Joel Hanley, his first in the NHL. The Lightning got a bit of luck in the second half of the period, however, and were able to tie things up when Anton Khudobin went to kick a very regular rebound on a shot by Blake Coleman into the corner, but then had it deflect back into the goal off of Yanni Gourde’s skate. Normal stuff.
The second period saw some more pushback from the Lightning, but the Stars were still holding on to their edge in momentum, and were able to capitalize on a Tampa defensive breakdown just past the midpoint of the period, and Jamie Oleksiak put the Stars ahead again. The tides started to shift a bit from there, and we saw the Lightning looking like they were building towards finding a way to break through again. The deficit they had to come back from grew even steeper at the tail end of the period, though, as Joel Kiviranta (ever clutch since his insertion into the lineup) scored with just 28 seconds remaining in the period to put the Stars up by two.
Tampa would also start the third period down a forward, as Pat Maroon closed out the second period trying to shoot the puck into the Dallas bench and earned himself a 10 minute misconduct, so the Lightning, who had already only dressed 11 forwards, were going to have to get creative for much of this period. But diminished as they might have been numbers wise, they came out with some jump for the third and positively dominated. They spent, it felt, just about the whole of the period in Dallas’s end, peppering them with shots. They even had a couple of power plays to work with, and really seemed to be knocking on the door, but Khudobin came up huge for the Stars again and again. In the end, they couldn’t beat him, and Jason Dickinson picked up the empty net goal with 1:18 to go, on just their second shot of the period, to seal the game. And the Stars jumped out to the early lead in the series.