Lightning nearly steal Game One despite not having their A game.
Colorado Leads the Series 1-0
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed four goals on 38 shots for the loss. The first two goals he allowed through him were very soft, but he got much stronger as the game progressed. I can’t fault him on the last two goals.
7:47 COL Landeskog (9), (Rantanen, Byram)
9:23 COL Nichushkin (6), (MacKinnon)
12:26 TB Paul (4), (Hedman, Point)
17:31 COL Lehkonen (7), (Rantanen, Landeskog)(PP)
12:51 TB Palat (9), (Kucherov, McDonagh)
13:39 TB Sergachev (2), (Hagel, Cirelli)
1:23 COL Burakovsky (2), (Nichushkin, Compher)
The known unknown going into the game was how Tampa Bay would handle the contrast between Colorado’s speed and the road cones that were left of the Rangers in Game Six of the ECF. The answer, unfortunately, was that the Lightning really didn’t adjust well to start the game, which was survivable but for two soft goals by Vasilevskiy. The Lightning played themselves back into the game at 2-1 before the refs rewarded Colorado for two dives that resulted in a 5-on-3 goal that, in retrospect, was a really big deal in this game. Full marks to the Lightning for battling the game back to even in the Second Period, but the energy expended to get it to even didn’t leave much for the Third Period to finish the job. The OT goal was off a broken play, but that’s what happens when possession gets titled against you like in this game. The odds of puck luck favor the team with the greater possession.
I expect the Lightning to be better in Game Two because my biggest item for correction is one that can be addressed tactically. It looks to me like Colorado sends two forecheckers really hard a la Carolina in last year’s second round. The Lightning were forcing too many passes up the boards for lack of any kind of outlet in the middle of the rink. These things are correctable, and if you remember that Carolina series, when the Lightning broke that first line of forecheck pressure with two quick passes it was a speed rush counter the other way and often a 3-on-2. This is where having a great coaching staff should pay off. Beyond that, I’m still not seeing the power play at the level it should be. The movement on their first man advantage was excellent, but they wasted their other two chances including a Third Period power play that could’ve swung the game in their favor. It seems like the tendency now is to force it to the bumper or to Kucherov. You’d like to see them maybe try to establish Hedman and Stamkos as threats a little more just to loosen up some seams for Kucherov to pass through.
Game Two’s obviously a big deal. This Colorado team can be scored on, but they’re very athletic and not ones you want to fall down 2-0 to. Like I said, though, the adjustments are there to be made. I’m not scared to death at the moment given the Lightning were one bounce from stealing Game One despite only playing to about 85% of their capacity. Make the adjustments. Buckle down and get a greater share of the possession. You still can get what you came to Colorado to get on this trip.