The Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final 5-1 over the Montreal Canadians on Monday night, snagging an early series lead just days after going the distance against the New York Islanders.
The battle started off with a goal from an unexpected place. Erik Cernak, a defender with no goals in the post-season prior to Monday, setting the tone with a goal early in the first period. From there, the big guns showed up in a big way: Nikita Kucherov scored two goals and had one assist and Brayden Point had three assists. Additionally, Yanni Gourde had a goal, Ondrej Palat had an assist and Steven Stamkos scored his first of the finals.
One of the biggest stories, though, was the status of forward Alex Killorn. After giving his stick to Victor Hedman after the big defender lost control of it, Killorn laid his body on the line by blocking a huge slapshot. Killorn would later exit the game in the first minute of the third period.
When asked about the status of Killorn, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, “I don’t have an update yet, but he couldn’t go down the stretch. Hopefully, we’ll see tomorrow.”
In a post-game interview, Stamkos said the talk in the Tampa locker room in the second intermission was to keep attacking the net. He felt they had a good second period except for the final five minutes when Montreal started to show momentum.
Kucherov, the leading scorer in the playoffs with 27 points in 18 games, added to his total with a three-point night. He emphasized the importance of Tampa sticking to their game plan, saying the team “Just put the puck deep and go get it.”
Montreal struggled to keep up with the Lightning for the majority of the game.
The Canadiens, which finished 18th in the regular season, got its only goal from defender Ben Chiarot. The physical D-man hit the post early in the second period while his team was trailing 1-0, but he got Montreal on the scoreboard when a shot deflected off Tampa defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and in. It was the only goal for the Canadiens, fresh off of a Game 6 win over Vegas.
The Lightning are looking to become the first team to repeat as champions since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.