As it turns out, a strong start and a raucous home crowd wasn't enough to keep the Tampa Bay Lightning from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. A late comeback by the Chicago Blackhawks gave them a 2-1 win and a 1-0 series lead on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay controlled the pace of play from the first puck drop, putting pressure on Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a handful of early chances. When the Blackhawks finally began to push back, Alex Killorn silenced them with one of the best goals of the playoffs to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
As the game progressed, the Lightning began to play with fire. Tampa Bay visited the penalty box uninterrupted three straight times, offering Chicago golden opportunities to even the game up. But the Lightning's penalty kill held fast, and Chicago was denied an equalizer.
But Tampa Bay seemed to flatline in the third period. Corey Crawford didn't face a shot for two periods of playing time, while his teammates upped the pressure at the other end. The result was two lightning-quick scores to change the game. First, rookie Teuvo Teravainen scored to tie the game.
Just a few minutes later, center Antoine Vermette registered his second game-winner of the playoffs to help secure Chicago's late comeback win.
3 things we learned
1. Ben Bishop and Crawford both looked confident
Bishop, in particular, played with the same poise he showed late in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning netminder pushed his goal-less streak past the 100 minute mark while locking things down as the Blackhawks surged late in Game 1. Up until the final six minutes and the Lightning's collapse, Bishop was solid in net. Crawford, for his part, kept Chicago in a game that could've easily been a three-goal advantage for the home team.
2. Victor Hedman and Brent Seabrook established their presences
Both sides channeled most of their back-end physicality through one player in Game 1, and the early stages of the game became a showcase for their prowess in both ends. Seabrook led the Blackhawks in hits (including a devastating one on Tyler Johnson at center ice), while Hedman shadowed Chicago's stars all over the defensive zone to keep them at bay. It's no wonder neither team could establish a rhythm offensively with those two on the ice. (And Duncan Keith was no slouch, either.)
3. Sometimes hockey is hard