Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning never seem to surprise anyone, but they just keep winning. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was no different as they ran Montreal out of the building winning 5-1. Kucherov scored 2 goals and had an assist which added to his postseason-leading point total of 30 (7 goals, 23 assists) in just 18 games. This is quite incredible as Kucherov missed the whole regular season recovering from a hip surgery. Nobody really knew what to expect from the Lightning forward, but he’s been more than Tampa could’ve imagined thus far in the playoffs.
The Canadiens probably played their worst game of the playoffs in Game 1. They had a streak of 13 games without giving up a Powerplay goal, but Tampa was sure to end that streak as Steven Stamkos buried one late in the 3rd to keep things out of reach. Carey Price stopped just 22 of 27 shots, but a lot of this had to do with Montreal’s poor defensive play throughout the game. Heading into the 3rd, the Canadiens were still in the game, down just 2-1. Tampa scored just 2 minutes into the 3rd period to get it back to a 2 goal lead. Montreal was never able to sustain any type of momentum during the game and as a result, Tampa was able to keep a lead from their first goal and on.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night on NBCSN at 8PM eastern. Tampa will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series as the Canadiens will look to build off of something before they head back home for games 3 and 4. The Canadiens are going to have to dig deep. Based off of Game 1, Tampa is the much more talented team, and could probably end this thing in 4-5 games if Montreal doesn’t put up a fight.