I presume everyone has finally relaxed.
Game 1 between the Lightning and Canadiens took place last night on April 16th, 2014. If you missed the tilt, you also missed some exceptional Canadiens hockey, as well an emotional rollercoaster filled with strangely placed ups and downs. By my count, I died 4 times and stopped breathing after the 3rd period. Let’s dig into it.
Kucherov opened the scoring at 10:09 of the 1st period after the Habs decided he had cooties and left him quite literally wide open in the slot. Price got across in time on the Brown pass but Nikita’s shot banked in off his left pad through the five-hole. It seemed like a bang-bang play, but I’m sure it’s one Carey wishes he had back – or it’s one he wishes didn’t even happen considering it was the result of defensive miscues.
The 1-goal cushion was short-lived as Plekanec was fed up with Tampa having the lead after only 19 seconds. Emelin made a pretty routine play up the boards to Gallagher who ever so lightly tapped the puck to Plekanec and he sliced through the middle of the ice, used telekinesis to knock Radko Gudas over and placed a seeing eye shot top bunk over Lindback’s left shoulder.
The majority of play between the 10:28 mark of Plekanec’s game-tying goal in the 1st until 13:24 of the 2nd period consisted largely of thoughtless shots from strange areas on the ice including a 71-foot floater from Plekanec. Then Stammer struck. He turned the game into NHL 14 mode and coasted down the entire length of the ice, putting a perfectly placed shot over Price’s pad, but under his blocker, and off the post and in. There was no criticism of his celebration after the goal because his name isn’t Galchenyuk or Subban.
The Lightning went to the powerplay shortly thereafter and it was at this time that Brian Gionta thought it would be cool to score. After a blocked shot, Eller neatly head-manned the puck to a streaking Gionta on a breakaway. After the captain’s initial attempt was stopped, Lindback kindly allowed Gionta another stab at it and he made no mistake, depositing it into the partially empty net for the 3rd shorthanded goal of his playoff career which also knotted the game at 2.
Eller quickly got on the board at the 5:10 mark of the 3rd period. He was given some open ice, frankly wherever he wanted it, on a rush with Bourque and threw a wrister far side to beat Lindback to his left. At first everyone thought it may have been Bourque’s, and after realizing it wasn’t, the #AlmostBourque hashtags began flying on Twitter. Gionta registered his second point of the night on Eller’s tally that made it 3-2.
Killorn responded promptly with the game-tying goal after Prust whiffed on a clearing attempt. Alex beat Price short side from the faceoff dot and the “Should Budaj start Game 2?” crowd quickly formed on social media.
Vanek and Desharnais combined for a very pretty goal at 11:30 of the 3rd period after Vanek, like a bolt of Lightning (see what I did there?), used his necessary speed to beat the agile, quick and young Eric Brewer to the net and tip in a gorgeous feed from the diminutive centre.
At 13:27 of the 3rd Mike Weaver decided that the game needed a bit more excitement, so he made an ill-advised pinch at the Tampa blueline, getting neither puck nor man, and Killorn was off to the races on a 2-on-1 with Stamkos. Markov was the defenseman back on the play and did what can only be described as passing out. He fell flat to the ice to attempt to block the pass across but was unsuccessful – Stamkos was left with a gaping net. 4-4.
After an absolutely ferocious 18 minutes of overtime filled with back and forth play, it was Tampa Bay’s turn to think an opposing player had cooties. Weise was left slightly off to the side in the slot. I believe the closest person to him, besides Briere, was someone in the audience. Weise lifted a Briere pass under the arm of Lindback for the overtime game-winning goal. Everyone rejoiced. Some of us began breathing again. Weise was absolutely ecstatic. Based on Subban’s reaction, you’d think he was the one who scored. Got to love him. The Montreal Canadiens take Game 1 in Tampa by a 5-4 final (OT). Phew.
I was really pleased with Montreal’s effort. They limited Tampa extremely well, though when they did surrender opportunities, they were prime chances. That was a tad concerning. Though they played like the solid possession club I know they can be and deserved the victory.
The Numbers – Team Based
Here’s the Fenwick graph for the game (even strength unblocked shot attempts)
The Numbers – Player Based
Game 2 is set for Friday, April 18th.
*Statistics via Extra Skater