Apr 29, 2011, 10:41 PM EDT
With stars like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos on each side, the marquee matchups dominated much of the talk going into tonight’s Game 1. While Stamkos ended up notching the game-winner, it turned out that Tampa Bay’s lesser known players came up big, too.
The Lightning carried their first round momentum into this contest, winning their fourth playoff game in a row and boosting their away record to 4-0 in the postseason. The Capitals weren’t outright atrocious, but a dull output might be equally troubling.
Tampa Bay 4, Washington 2; Lightning lead series 1-0
Sean Bergenheim continues to provide some much-appreciated depth scoring for the Lightning. He scored a goal about two minutes into the game, which brings his goal-scoring streak to three games and his overall points streak to five (four goals and one assist).
The Capitals were one of the best teams in the NHL at bouncing back from early deficits, so it wasn’t that surprising when Alexander Semin tied it up less than two minutes later. Things got that much worse for the Lightning when speedy sniper Simon Gagne needed help getting off the ice after a hard, but legal hit by Scott Hannan. It seems like Gagne is “OK” but he didn’t return during Game 1 and his status will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Brooks Laich appeared to give the Capitals 2-1 a lead, but as you can see from the video, he clearly kicked the puck in. The game ended up tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
The Capitals didn’t take long to make that 2-1 lead a reality as Eric Fehr finished off a nice face-off play by burying a one-timer after a nice setup by Jason Chimera. The Capitals managed to hold that lead for much of the second period, but a few mistakes caused them to lose their final lead of the game.
Tampa Bay takes advantage of Washington’s mistakes
Steve Downie continues his metamorphosis from a player who only delivered little but dirty hits to a poor man’s Corey Perry in Tampa Bay. He’s still an agitating force, but you must respect his offensive ability. Downie tied the game up at 2-2 and his one-goal, one-assist Game 1 makes him the team’s leading postseason scorer with nine points.
Chimera took an ill-timed penalty late in the second period, opening the door for Stamkos to jam home a rebound with about 30 seconds left in the middle frame. That ended up being the game-winner for Tampa Bay.
The Lightning defense holds strong
Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 scheme and his team’s overall defense improved as the game went on. The Lightning allowed 14 shots on goal in the first period, nine in the second and only five while protecting that one-goal lead in the third. Perhaps all the discussion of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ putrid first round PP obscured just how efficient the Bolts’ PK was, as they kept the Capitals’ man advantage off the board in all five opportunities.
Dominic Moore capped a great high-effort game by scoring an empty-net goal while out-hustling Alex Ovechkin, who made Moore earn that tally by dropping him shortly thereafter.
Boucher pointed out all the pressure on the Capitals going into Game 1. The Bolts can feel even looser in Game 2 after taking at least one contest on the road. Tampa Bay wasn’t perfect – Brett Clark was particularly bad, turning the puck over on Semin’s goal – but they should be pleased with themselves right now.
The Capitals seemed flat in this game, perhaps due to the dangerous combination of too much time off and too much praise for a gritty first round performance. The Rangers series tested their willingness to fight, but the Lightning will make Washington prove that they can really play lock-down defense.
Every round of the playoffs force teams to prove themselves once more, so we’ll learn a lot about the East’s top seed by how they respond in Game 2.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
If he could get going, Dallas wouldn’t be as reliant on its top line.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:01 AM EDT
The numbers are even more striking when you compare Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2003
Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Nashville continues its strong start to 2014-15.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT
He sat out the third period for Grand Rapids because of soreness.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Interesting discussion between Bob McKenzie and Mike Milbury.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
Some controversial calls on a light Wednesday night.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT
Detroit’s big guns came through.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT
Oct 29, 2014, 8:53 PM EDT
Gustav Nyquist got that 1-0 lead back.
Oct 29, 2014, 8:06 PM EDT
Oct 29, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
“No news is bad news” for the veteran forward.
Oct 29, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT
Also: a fun story from Mike Milbury’s playing days.
Oct 29, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
It appears that the health of “Mr. Hockey” has been improving.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He hopes to end his scoring slump against Detroit tonight.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT
Can Alex Ovechkin break his cold streak?
Oct 29, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT
Markus Granlund gets called up amid many injuries.
Oct 29, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
“Right now, the playing situation is out of my control.”
Oct 29, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT
Punished for making the head the primary point of contact.
Oct 29, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT
Colorado has just two wins in its first 10 outings.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
- Red Wings take over third period, blank Ovechkin in win 4
- Video: Doc Emrick’s heartfelt words about Gordie Howe 4
- Rangers’ Moore suspended five games for ‘extremely difficult’ Haula hit 18
- Ovechkin looking to avoid career-long scoring slump tonight 11
- Nolan skates Sabres, says the time for ‘taking it easy is over’ 36
- Report: Gryba, Tropp avoid punishment after getting tossed for hits 6
- What they’re saying about the Sabres (and it’s not good) 21
- NHL on NBCSN: Caps, Red Wings battle after hotly contested 13-14 series 5
- Miller wins 300th, Canes finish Oct. without single victory 7
- Video: Backes crashes into Daley, falls to ice hard (Updated) 5
- Video: John Moore with an elbow to the head of Erik Haula (Updated) (61)
- Report: Varlamov being sued by ex-girlfriend (47)
- Kreider calls Brodin hit a ‘bang-bang play,’ doesn’t plan to dramatically change his game (45)
- No hearing scheduled for Kreider after Brodin hit (44)
- Kopitar out, Lombardi irate as Kings will play shorthanded vs. Flyers (40)