Tampa – – The Tampa Bay Lightning beat down the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Nikita Kucherov, who had an injury last series seems completely over it! He had two goals and an assist.
“We have a system. A plan and we stick to it. We don’t think about them,” Kucherov stated. “It was tough mentally not being able to play (during the regular season). It’s great to play in the Final.”
A healthier Kucherov made all the difference. He was out there dissecting plays and now he’s trying to add his name near Wayne Gretzky on the postseason record list but I’ll let him add more points before tallying that.
Coaching was the key in this game. Dominique Ducharme is in quarantine and should be fine for Game 3 in Montreal. Luke Richardson, standing in behind the bench seemed to have his team too fired up. They were overly physical, bloodied and by the end of the game, Carey Price was flat worn out. Jon Cooper coached like he has been there before.
“Coaches tell us what to do and I think we do a great job just doing that,” Kucherov added.
Taking away the eyes of Carey Price sounds easy. It hasn’t been for any team considering how the Habs defense defends that area of the ice but the Lightning were able to do it and Gourde got a goal because of that.
“Going to the net and taking his eyes away is the key.”
Captain Steve Stamkos summed it up well.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes by not sitting back again. We got rewarded with some goals and it was a great third period.”
The Habs need to play Alexander Romanov. They are desperately missing his speed and puck-moving ability. The Habs top four have played a boatload of minutes and they need fresh legs. You must give this guy some experience at some time if you expect him to be a top blueliner in the league.
An unsung hero of this game for Tampa was David Savard. In the first period, when Tampa was up just 1-0, he was first to pucks and was winning puck battles in the corner. He’s the kind of defenseman that had a good game if you don’t talk or tweet about him too much.
This game had an energy that I haven’t felt for well over a year. That energized the Lightning for sure. I could see it happening especially when they were screaming when Brendan Gallagher came up bloodied after Lightning defenseman, Mikhail Sergachev wrestled him to the ice probably harder than he expected.
The Habs need the day off badly. You could see it. They have to stop fight and have to start skating. Tampa can play a physical game and they can play a wide-open game. They need to try something in-between if they want to pull out a victory on Wednesday night.