Apr 29, 2011, 10:41 PM EST
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.
Jan 24, 2015, 10:03 PM EST
See you all tomorrow.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:41 PM EST
Florida’s All-Star goalie never gave up on it.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:14 PM EST
Just 0.3 away from Zdeno Chara’s all-time record.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:09 PM EST
Jan 24, 2015, 8:34 PM EST
Team Foligno running away with this.
Jan 24, 2015, 8:21 PM EST
That’s an all-time screencap right there.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:55 PM EST
Team Foligno sweeps first competition.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:09 PM EST
Johnny Hockey gets the nod.
Jan 24, 2015, 6:20 PM EST
Has gone from forward to defense, back to forward and back to defense.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:30 PM EST
He’s ranked fourth in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:23 PM EST
Bragging rights on the line.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:21 PM EST
And what will the team look like?
Jan 24, 2015, 4:55 PM EST
It’s expected to be around $71.6 million to $72.2 million for the 2015-16 season.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:09 PM EST
Slovenia’s (and Los Angeles’) Anze Kopitar figures to play a prominent role.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:02 PM EST
Will fans care? Is it fair?
Jan 24, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
“People are intrigued by this. There are going to be great storylines.”
Jan 24, 2015, 2:15 PM EST
Gillette Stadium, TCF Bank Stadium and Coors Field will play hosts
Jan 24, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
It all gets going at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Jan 24, 2015, 12:46 PM EST
“Again, I’ll repeat that for this team to be even remotely close to missing the playoffs isn’t something we can be happy about.”
Jan 24, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
The 21-year-old is learning what it takes to be an NHL regular.
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