Going into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, many people expected a fast-paced, high-scoring game. What we got was a fast-paced, tit-for-tat game that saw the Tampa Bay Lightning control the better part of the game, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks doing what they do best – rallying when their backs are against the wall, squeaking out a 2-1 victory.
To their credit, the Lightning did everything they could to neutralize the firepower that Chicago brings, keeping both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews off the score sheet while also using their fast-paced, high-energy to rattle the Blackhawks from the start. For all of their inexperience, Tampa Bay looked poised to shutout the Blackhawks – a feat that has not been done in 28 games – until Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette scored 1:58 apart to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead and eventually a 1-0 series lead.
Here are three observations from Game 1:
For all of his struggles, Corey Crawford has been a steady force for Chicago when they really needed him. In Games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference Final, Crawford held the Anaheim Ducks to a total of five goals, making big stop after big stop.
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, it was much of the same. After giving up an early goal on a nifty redirect by Alex Killorn on an Anton Stralman shot, Crawford went on to stop the next 22 shots he faced. None were bigger than this stop on Ryan Callahan with his team trailing 1-0 in the third:
Crawford single-handedly kept his team in the game, allowing them to strike in third and reward him for his dazzling performance.
Third Line Flying High
Going into Game 1, all of the talk centered around the playmaking stars on both sides of the ice. With all of the focus on the likes of Kane, Toews, and Marian Hossa, it is easy to see how the Chicago Blackhawks third line could be overlooked.
Featuring Teravainen, Vermette, and Patrick Sharp, the Hawks third line has had a flare for the dramatics already in these playoffs. In Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, both Teravainen and Vermette were scratched; when they returned to the lineup in Game 4, Teravainen collected an assist on Vermette’s double overtime winner.
It was much of the same in the first game of this series, as Teravainen took a drop pass from possible Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith, and used a Marcus Kruger screen to sneak it by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Teravainen would once again come up large a minute and a half later, when he knocked the puck away from Lightning forward J.T. Smith on the right side of the ice, right to Vermette, who beat Bishop top shelf on his glove side.
Here is what Marian Hossa had to say about Teravainen after the game:
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 4, 2015
Lightning Streak Snapped
Coming into the game, the Lightning sported a 9-0 record when they scored first in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs; they also held an 8-0 record when they lead after the second period. Both of those records now have a blemish on them following Game 1.
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Matthew Bowen has been covering the Chicago Blackhawks for 5+ years. He has covered the team for websites such as ChiCitySports, Bleacher Report and Blackhawksondemand.