The Lightning was outplayed for two periods. That cost them game one of the Stanley Cup Finals as they were beaten by the Dallas Stars 4-1.
Everyone is blaming it on the fact the Stars were more well-rested than the Lightning. The Lightning was coming a tough six-game series with the New York Islanders and an overtime win in game six.
What it had more to do it than any other factor was the Lightning came out flat. They let Dallas dictate the play of the game while the Lightning watched and reacted before bringing their A-game in the third period.
A ton of credit goes to Stars’ goaltender Anton Khudobin. Khudobin outplayed Vezina finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy as he stopped 22 Lightning shots in the third period alone.
The Lightning ended up with 36-20 shots on goal advantage in game one, but could only get one past Khudobin.
Khudobin also helped kill off three Lightning power plays in the third period. He made great saves all night to help Dallas get the win.
The Stars knew they had to send a message right from the puck drop as they took the game right to the Lightning.
The Stars were the more physical team outhitting the Lightning 56-50.
The Lightning was not able to get any sustainable pressure on Khudobin until the third period. The Lightning played great in that third period. They just couldn’t get one past Khudobin.
If the Lightning had been able to get a goal in that third-period barrage of shots, that could have changed the fortunes for the Lightning.
So the Lightning is down 1-0. What Now?
Get back to playing Lightning hockey the way they have played these last six weeks.
The Lightning needs to start quickly and be ready to go toe to toe with Dallas right from the opening face-off.
The Bolts need to get pressure on the Dallas defense and Khudobin right from the start. Had they done that in game one, the outcome may have been different.
Dallas has a high propensity for taking penalties. The Lightning has to make them pay at some point. The Lightning were 0/3 on the power play, with all three power plays coming in the third period.
The Lightning need to be prepared for the Stars to be “in their face” right from the start. That is the style that the Stars play, so the Lightning will need to counter that.
The Lightning will need to use their speed and have all four lines contributing in some way.
Dallas had goals from Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak, Joel Kiviranata, and an empty netter from Jason Dickinson.
This was Hanley’s and Dickinson’s first goals of the playoffs.
Game two is Monday at 8 PM. The Lightning cannot afford to go down 2-0. The team that goes up 2-0 in the finals has gone on to win the Stanley Cup 46 of the last 51 times.