Lightning strike five times to take game 1 of Stanley Cup Finals

Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde reacts after his goal during the second period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Gerry Broome, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TAMPA, Fla. – A three-goal third period gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday.

In the first period, the two teams feeling each other out. It was the first time since March 5, 2020. The game also featured two Vezina-winning goaltenders facing off in the finals for the first time since 1999. However, that did not mean the game was not electric. Both teams giving the hits over the first 10 minutes of the game. But it was Tampa who would get on the board first.

The play started with Brayden Point coming into his zone on the backcheck. He intercepted a Montreal pass and created a chance the other way. Ondrej Palat sped through the zones on the left-wing side and tossed it over to Erik Cernak. It glanced off his stick and into the top corner. The goal was Cernak’s first in postseason action.

Montreal would get a power play in the first but could not register a shot on goal. They did have one chance in particular in the first but the puck glanced off the shoulder of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Tampa started the second period with a power-play that was carried over from the opening frame. The Lightning pushed the puck through the offensive zone but could not come up with anything.

But Tampa Bay wasn’t done. Just like the first goal, it started with a Montreal turnover in the neutral zone. Barclay Goodrow took the shot from the high slot. However, it hit a leg and died but trailing behind was Yanni Gourde who sent the puck into the back of the net. Gourde now has goals in back-to-back games.

Montreal was not ready to give up the first game of the series. Netminder Carey Price kept the team in it while snagging the puck out of the air. He also made a sprawling pad save on a streaking Steven Stamkos. But it was Ben Chiarot, who hit the post earlier in the period, would get the Canadians on the board. In the second half of the middle frame, Chiarot took a shot from the right point. It bounced off two Tampa legs and into the back of the net. This made it a 2-1 Lightning game. It also snapped 97:40 of shutout hockey by Vasilevskiy. Both teams traded chances in the final minutes of the second but the netminders stood tall.

In the third, Tampa regained the two-goal lead. Nikita Kucherov threw the puck at the net. It went off the glove of Chiarot then ping-ponged off his stick and into the back of the net. Vasilevskiy was tested minutes after the Tampa goal. But he kept his cool and the puck out of the net. Later in the period, Kucherov scored his second of the night. The Lightning found themselves with an offensive face-off draw. It was won back to the stick of Kucherov who walked into the slot. His wrist shot went over the glove of Price to make it a 4-1 lead.

The Canadians wanted to send a message in the final six minutes of the game. Brendan Gallagher, who had been a thorn in Tampa all night, was in the mix of a scuffle after the whistle. He was eventually taken down to the ice. The altercation led to a Montreal power play.

The Lightning killed off the penalty and found themselves on the man advantage. Montreal taking two penalties during the final three minutes of the game. But it was the second power-play that proved the better for Tampa. Stamkos and Kucherov passing the puck throughout the offensive zone. But it was a hard angle shot from the team’s captain the found the back of the net. Tampa took game one by a final of 5-1.

The same two teams will play Wednesday in the best-of-seven series for a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.