EDMONTON, Alberta — The Dallas Stars have drawn first blood as two of the N.H.L.’s southernmost franchises compete for a championship contained in the league’s so-called bubble within the league’s northernmost metropolis.
The Stars defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1, in a fast-paced and bodily Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday evening.
Dallas was the second-stingiest staff within the N.H.L. through the common season. But the offensive efforts of the membership’s defensemen have drawn consideration through the playoffs. Miro Heiskanen sat fourth over all in playoff scoring with 22 factors coming into Game 1 and added one other help on Saturday. But it was the defensive blueliners Joel Hanley and Jamie Oleksiak who scored the Stars’ first two targets.
“It’s how you win in the playoffs,” Stars Coach Rick Bowness mentioned. “You rely on your top-end guys to get you some offense or to get you some chances, and you rely on some guys that have to step up every now and then to score some huge goals for us.
“Joel Hanley, I just couldn’t be happier for,” Bowness added. “This kid’s given us a lot of good quality minutes. That’s what you need to win in the playoffs. You can’t just focus on your top-end guys. You need contributions from everybody.”
Forward Joel Kiviranta added his fifth aim of the postseason and Jason Dickinson scored his first into an empty internet. Yanni Gourde had Tampa Bay’s solely aim.
Stars netminder Anton Khudobin made 35 saves to report his 13th win of the playoffs, whereas Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 16 pictures for the Lightning.
Though Dallas performed two extra video games than Tampa Bay through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Stars got here into the finals because the extra rested membership. They had eradicated the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 video games within the Western Conference finals. The Lightning wanted six video games to get previous the Islanders, together with a double-overtime defeat in Game 5 and an extra time win in Game 6.
“Dallas has been the benefactor of Game 1, with rest,” Lightning Coach Jon Cooper mentioned.
“They came out and they were skating,” he continued. “It’s too bad. Turn the page and move on, short memory in the playoffs.”
Even with out followers within the constructing, feelings had been operating excessive for each groups, the final squads standing after spending seven weeks remoted from household and mates in pursuit of a championship. The sport additionally featured greater than 100 hits: 56 for the Lightning and 50 for the Stars.
In the third interval, Tampa Bay was awarded its three energy performs, however couldn’t beat the assured Khudobin.
“We finally found our game in the third period,” mentioned Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who completed with a team-high six pictures on aim. “We allowed them to take the game to us. We generated chances and played our best hockey in the third. Not the result we wanted, but certainly something we can build on.”
At even power with lower than eight minutes left, Khudobin made a showstopping, around-the-world glove save on a shot by Zach Bogosian, as he continued to capably carry the load for the Stars whereas starter Ben Bishop has been deemed unfit to play due to an damage.
“Anton, he’s just a great competitor,” Bowness mentioned. “Don’t get wrapped up in styles. Get wrapped up in the job description: Stop the puck. He does everything he can to stop every shot.”
The Stars dominated puck possession early, and opened the scoring simply 5 minutes and 40 seconds into the primary interval. Hanley tallied his first profession N.H.L. aim after receiving a cross into the slot from Roope Hintz. The play got here after Kiviranta had agitated the Lightning by laying an enormous hit on star ahead Brayden Point alongside the boards. Hintz later left the sport and didn’t return after blocking a blast from Mikhail Sergachev together with his foot.
The Lightning tied the sport with 8:28 left within the first interval. A degree shot from Blake Coleman bounced off Khudobin’s proper pad earlier than pinballing into the online off the skate of Gourde after which ricocheting off Hintz. Gourde was given credit score for the aim, his sixth of the playoffs.
In the second interval, the Stars regained offensive momentum throughout two power-play alternatives after a pair of penalties to Coleman. But they didn’t beat Vasilevskiy till the 12:30 mark. With sustained strain at even power, Oleksiak swooped deep into the slot to gather a cross from Alexander Radulov. After his first shot, Oleksiak pulled the rebound round a sprawling Luke Schenn and beat Vasilevskiy excessive.
The aim was Oleksiak’s fifth of the playoffs, matching his profession regular-season excessive, and stood up as the sport winner.
“Getting the D involved a little bit more, I think the opportunities have come my way and I’ve been able to put a couple in,” mentioned Oleksiak, who additionally mentioned that he misplaced a tooth through the second interval when he “ate a little bit of elbow.”
“I think it’s just a product of good team play and our system. It’s definitely nice to contribute in that way.”
Tampa Bay’s greatest probability to attain within the second got here with slightly below 4 minutes left, when Anthony Cirelli caught with a unfastened puck that got here off Khudobin’s pads, however couldn’t put it home. Three minutes later, after a shot from Schenn rang off the publish, the Stars surged down the ice and prolonged their result in 3-1 on one other rebound alternative, this time when Kiviranta retrieved the puck after a block by Sergachev, then beat Vasilevskiy.
The best-of-seven sequence will proceed Monday evening.