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.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT
In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?
Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.
Aug 3, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT
Ron DeGregorio rounded out the group.
Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The worst should be behind them.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?
Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?
Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for
Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.
Aug 2, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Will all of them play in 2015-16?
Aug 2, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
That will eat up his first year of UFA eligibility.
Aug 2, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
Can they close to final gap between them and the Stanley Cup?
Aug 2, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
They avoided an arbitration judgment.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
They’re in win now mode.
Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
He’ll add some toughness to the lineup.
Aug 1, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
New Jersey is still working on getting the 18-year-old signed to an entry-level contract.
Aug 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
The two met in the Czech Republic to get to know one another.
Aug 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Lehtonen and Niemi will account for $10.4 million in cap space next season.
Aug 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
He’s heading into the final year of his two-year, $5 million deal.
- It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT 16
- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 24
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 58
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 41
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 44
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (71)
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? (58)