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SCF: Rested Stars Take Game 1

September 20, 2020, 8:48 AM ET [4 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Dallas Stars Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Coming off a four-day rest period after closing out the Western Conference Final on Monday, the Dallas Stars got off to a strong start with a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday Night in Edmonton. The Lightning had one only day between their series-clinching overtime win against the New York Islanders on Thursday and the start of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning were held to just 14 shots on goal through 40 minutes, while Dallas built a 3-1 lead. In the third period, as if often the case when a team holds a multi-goal lead, the Stars had to withstand an all-out assault from Tampa, with red-hot goaltender Anton Khudobin making 22 saves including a couple of ten-bell stops and Dallas having to kill back-to-back penalties midway through the final stanza. Tampa pulled goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy early for a 6-on-5 attack, but the only additional scoring was a Jason Dickinson empty netter with 1:18 left on the clock (the second of the Stars' two shots on goal in the third period).

Back in the first period, the Stars and Lightning each caught a break on plays that ended up in goals. Tampa basically stopped playing while looking for a boarding penalty on Joel Kiviranta. Roope Hintz had time and space to make a pass-out from behind the net to Jack Hanley, who scored from the center slot to give the Stars a 1-0 lead at 5:40.

At 12:32, the Lightning were the beneficiaries of a favorable bounce of the puck as Yanni Gourde knotted the score at 1-1. The Gourde goal would be the only one that Tampa was to get against Khudobin, who made 35 saves on 36 shots to earn the win.

In the second period, Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak -- who had a very active all-around game, including a lost tooth, a half dozen blocked shots and a half dozen credited hits -- nicely roofed a puck near the net at the 12:30 mark on a patient offensive sequence that was started by Miro Heiskanen and Alexander Radulov.

Dallas got a valuable insurance goal in the final half-minute of the second period as Kiviranta had an initial deep slot shot blocked by Mikhail Sergechev and then scored on a second-effort shot that found space under Vasilevskiy's arm on the glove side. It was a leaky goal from Vasilevskiy's standpoint. The 2018-19 Vezina Trophy winner and 2019-20 finalist finished with 16 saves on 19 shots.

Game 2 is on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET. This could be a more telling game about the direction of the series. Tampa, which is dealing with several injuries and has looked vulnerable on the lower part of their blueline in particular, really took the play to the Stars in the latter part of Game 1. Goaltending is always hockey's greatest equalizer but the Stars cannot take another series of careless penalties as they did in Game 1 and realistically expect to continue dancing between the raindrops. The third period was not exactly a textbook closeout for the Stars, but it worked for that night.
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