How Game 1 will influence the rest of the Stanley Cup Final

NHL

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning obtained off to a rollicking begin, with Colorado leaping out to a 3-1 lead within the first interval, Tampa Bay tying it within the second, and the Avalanche prevailing 4-3 in extra time.

What did we be taught in Sport 1 and the way will it affect the remainder of the sequence? We requested hockey reporters Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski for his or her greatest takeaways from the Avs’ opening-game victory.

Extra: Cup Final schedule
Burning questions for the series

Every thing as marketed

If Sport 1 is any indication, this Stanley Cup Ultimate could possibly be one for the books.

Colorado dominated the primary interval. Tampa Bay took over within the second. By the third, the groups have been knotted 3-3, and it appeared solely becoming for the sport to achieve extra time.

When Andre Burakovsky scored an awesome objective for Colorado, it was virtually disappointing to see the night finish. The back-and-forth might have gone on endlessly.

Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t at his finest to start out for Tampa Bay, giving up three objectives on 15 pictures within the first interval, however he bounced again to play just like the Vezina Trophy winner the Lightning have relied on of their championship run. Rely on him to have a extra full efficiency in Sport 2.

Colorado’s resilience continued to shine by way of. The Avalanche have not develop into rattled by any ups and downs within the playoffs, and Wednesday evening was no exception. Blowing a two-goal result in the two-time Cup champs might need gotten right into a lesser crew’s head. Not Colorado. Its total success in these playoffs has been about staying true to themselves. There was no panic. The Avalanche’s depth got here by way of once more.

What’s to return on Saturday when these two face off once more? Extra of the identical, please. Much more. — Kristen Shilton


Lightning have been right here earlier than

Shedding a Sport 1 is not precisely a faith-shattering improvement for the Lightning. Quite the opposite, it is downright commonplace of their journey towards a three-peat.

In 11 playoff sequence since 2020, the Lightning have misplaced the opening recreation 5 occasions. That features two of three sequence on this postseason: The Lightning dropped opening video games to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers by a mixed rating of 11-2. Every time, they’ve rallied to win the sequence.

“I believe that is the wonderful thing about our group: There aren’t many conditions that we have not been in,” winger Alex Killorn mentioned. “It seems like we have seen all of it. We’re not anxious. We’re assured going ahead. However there’s positively much more work to be executed.”

The message was clear from the Lightning and their coach after the Sport 1 loss to the Avalanche. They felt they “dipped their toe” into the sport quite than establishing themselves within the first interval, permitting Colorado to take that early two-goal lead.

“Perhaps we have been simply attempting to get a really feel for them. It is gotta be the opposite method round. Now we have to return out and set the tone. We knew they have been going to have begin. We simply weren’t as prepared as we might prefer to be,” Killorn mentioned.

Coach Jon Cooper tried to intensify the positives from the hassle.

“Anytime you lose Sport 1, you are not feeling nice about it. We in all probability dipped our toes within the water firstly of the sport and clearly dug ourselves a gap. However there have been stretches of that recreation I appreciated what we have been doing and I stretches I did not, and I can say that about Sport 1 in Toronto and Sport 1 towards the Rangers,” the coach mentioned.

“So we have now to scrub this up. There’s some optimistic indicators on this recreation, however the correct crew received the sport. So give them credit score for pulling it out.”

Largely, the Lightning felt like they did after these different Sport 1 efforts: That their opponent hadn’t seen their finest as a result of it was but to return.

“We have got higher in us, although. I do not suppose by a rustic mile that we gave them our greatest recreation and we nonetheless had an opportunity to drag it out. However to beat a gifted crew like that … we have a greater recreation in us,” Cooper mentioned.

They higher have one. It is properly established that shedding Sport 1 of a sequence is not supreme. For the reason that Stanley Cup Ultimate moved to a best-of-seven sequence in 1939, groups that win Sport 1 have an all-time sequence file of 62-20 (.756). But when the Lightning have been to go down 2-0 to the Avalanche, it might imply they’ve dug a two-game gap within the convention finals and Stanley Cup Ultimate. In keeping with ESPN Stats & Information, no crew has trailed 2-0 within the ultimate two rounds of the playoffs for the reason that Chicago Black Hawks in 1965. In truth, solely 4 groups in NHL historical past have executed so — and none of them received the Stanley Cup. — Greg Wyshynski


Rust? What rust?

A lot was made concerning the eight days Colorado had off between Sport 4 of the Western Convention finals and Sport 1 of the Cup Ultimate. It was a lot ado about nothing.

The Avalanche confirmed no trace of rust following their lengthy layoff. Positive, the sport’s first few shifts have been sloppy (on each side) however trying a bit of nervous to start out crucial recreation of your season is to be anticipated.

And that first minute was the final one the place Colorado appeared to really feel any impact of not taking part in for greater than per week.

The Avalanche used a momentum-shifting penalty kill early within the first interval to generate all-important scoring momentum. Simply 40 seconds after Josh Manson was launched from the field, Gabriel Landeskog made it 1-0. The captain who, at Colorado’s lowest level in 2017, thought the crew would possibly by no means expertise any such success had scored the Cup Ultimate’s first objective.

Lower than two minutes after that, Valeri Nichushkin had the Avalanche up 2-0.

The primary interval was half over. If both crew regarded sleepy at that time, it wasn’t Colorado. The Avs have been up 3-1 by the tip of that body.

Colorado obtained away from its recreation within the second interval when Tampa Bay scored two fast objectives to knot the rating, 3-3. However they’d recent sufficient legs to outlast the Lightning when it mattered most, making the correct strikes in extra time to arrange Burakovsky’s winner.

It was one other instance of how Colorado’s depth has been — and certain will proceed to be — a defining issue on this postseason. The Avalanche have hardly ever needed to rely solely on their stars to supply, and that depth will proceed to push Tampa Bay’s buttons and problem even an all-world netminder like Vasilevskiy. — Shilton


Rally round Vasy

Statistically talking, this was the worst begin of a recreation that Vasilevskiy has had in his profession. It was the primary time the Lightning goalie had allowed three objectives within the first interval. Whereas the 5-on-3 objective by Artturi Lehkonen that made it 3-1 was gift-wrapped by his teammates’ penalties, the primary two objectives he surrendered the place uncharacteristically stoppable: a puck trickling by way of his pads that Landeskog tapped in and the primary five-hole objective he had given up all postseason.

It says the whole lot about Vasilevskiy’s worth to the Lightning that postgame feedback weren’t simply supportive however principally exonerating.

“I believed he was dialed in. The primary one, transferring display, in order that was a troublesome one for him. The second, possibly. However I believed he was in all probability our greatest participant tonight,” Cooper mentioned.

The truth that Vasilevskiy ended up making 34 saves on the evening, steadying himself till Burakovsky’s extra time winner, was a degree of delight for his teammates.

“That is anticipated. That is why he is the most effective on this planet. He is all the time going to be able to do properly in these conditions,” Killorn mentioned.

There’s apparent cause for optimism that Vasilevskiy’s Sport 1 hiccups will not be repeated. Within the first recreation of his 4 playoff sequence, Vasilevskiy is 1-3 with a 3.99 goals-against common and a .884 save share. In Video games 2-7 of these sequence? Vasilevskiy is 11-3 with a 1.90 GAA and a .939 save share.

“Vasy, clearly, is a difference-maker. The most effective goalie on this planet. He is our greatest participant. He can steal video games and he can win video games for himself. He virtually did it tonight,” defenseman Mikhail Sergachev mentioned. — Wyshynski


Assured in Kuemper?

Whereas Colorado hadn’t performed shortly, Darcy Kuemper had endured a good longer absence than his teammates.

The Avalanche goalie’s final look was greater than two weeks in the past, when he suffered an upper-body harm in Sport 1 of Colorado’s Western Convention finals matchup towards Edmonton on Might 30.

Pavel Francouz received 4 straight in his absence, however it was Kuemper again within the starter’s crease for Sport 1 of the Cup Ultimate.

Kuemper had been strong within the postseason (.897 SV%, 2.65 GAA) whereas battling by way of accidents within the first spherical (eye) and the convention finals. He began out with just a few sharp saves on Colorado’s early penalty kill, then obtained beat by Nick Paul after he walked round Erik Johnson and went in alone on Kuemper.

The Lightning’s offensive assault obtained rolling within the second, and Kuemper struggled to maintain up. He made one nice save on Nikita Kucherov early within the interval, however had no reply when Kucherov teed up Ondrej Palat for a objective, adopted lower than a minute later by Mikhail Sergachev‘s game-tying rating.

Kuemper needed to be good within the third, and did sufficient to carry Tampa Bay off, permitting Colorado to return by way of in extra time. The veteran completed with 20 saves and an .870 save share. It isn’t a stellar stat line, however the best way Kuemper stood tall within the third was sufficient to present Colorado confidence he’ll carry them by way of. And figuring out Francouz is correct behind him and able to take over must be motivation for Kuemper to step up additional in Sport 2 (and past) when the sequence inevitably will get tighter and extra heated. — Shilton

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Andre Burakovsky reacts to scoring the game-winning objective in extra time to present the Avalanche the Sport 1 victory within the Stanley Cup Ultimate.


Lightning heart Brayden Level knew what he was stepping into. He acknowledged earlier than Sport 1, his first motion since struggling a lower-body harm in Sport 7 towards the Maple Leafs on Might 14, that adapting to the pace and circulate of the Stanley Cup playoffs once more would possibly take a while.

Level ended up taking part in 17:59 in Sport 1, skating with forwards Nick Paul and Ross Colton. He picked up a secondary help on Paul’s first interval objective, giving him 5 factors in eight postseason video games. He noticed first-unit energy play time.

There have been moments when he regarded like himself, like when he almost stickhandled by way of three Avalanche defenders on a zone entry. There have been moments when he appeared a step behind, and he did not register a shot try within the recreation. The postgame press convention have been a reminder that Level remains to be working his method again: a scheduled media look was scrapped as he acquired therapy.

That mentioned, the Lightning have been each impressed and impressed by his efficiency.

“He is a warrior. He will intestine it out. It is simply nice for him to get again and nice for our crew to see him again on the market. I believed he performed tremendous,” captain Steven Stamkos mentioned.

“Every time we get him again in our lineup, it is big for our crew,” Killorn mentioned. “The way in which he can skate, it is just like their gamers within the sense that he can take over a recreation.”

Coach Jon Cooper felt it was an necessary return for his crew, now and for the remainder of the sequence.

“Level helps our crew. Was Brayden Level the Brayden Level earlier than his harm? In all probability not, however that’s his first recreation in properly over a month and we performed the quickest crew within the league,” Cooper mentioned. “So it is a powerful one to leap into, however I believed he did nice.” — Wyshynski


Potent penalty kill

Colorado’s penalty kill was excellent in Sport 1, which is an efficient factor as a result of the Avalanche would have been in bother in any other case. It additionally units up a compelling storyline for the remainder of the Cup Ultimate.

Tampa Bay obtained certainly one of its most harmful gamers again on Wednesday in Brayden Point, and he was proper again on the crew’s prime energy play unit. Level alone is sufficient to give Colorado matches.

However the Avalanche’s penalty kill was as much as the duty. It was aggressive in difficult the Lightning’s shooters. Gamers made key shot blocks — together with a large one by Jack Johnson on Tampa Bay’s first energy play — and obtained the mandatory clears even because the Lightning battled to maintain pucks within the zone.

Colorado allowed solely two pictures on Tampa Bay’s first two makes an attempt. However the Avalanche’s third kill — with the sport tied within the third interval — was their greatest. When each resolution might result in a go-ahead objective, the Avalanche made each proper alternative killing off the minor infraction. There is a tremendous line between doing an excessive amount of and never sufficient, and Colorado’s kill was the right steadiness.

Sport 1 was an ideal instance of why particular groups matter a lot within the first place. Colorado and Tampa Bay could not be extra evenly matched. Both facet might discover an edge on the ability play one evening, or the penalty kill one other. That margin for error is wafer skinny everywhere in the ice, and what we’ll see within the video games to return is how one aspect can finally make a major distinction within the end result. — Shilton

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