In their search for another Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning answered many questions Monday night.
How effective would leading scorer Nikita Kucherov be after missing all but one shift of Game 6 in the last round?
Their power play could be a match for the Montreal Canadiens’ impressive penalty killing unit. Could they also solve Carey Price’s problem?
Kucherov scored two goals and Steven Stamkos connected on a power play in the third period, as the Lightning, the Stanley Cup Final defending champion, piled on for a 5-1 victory in Game 1.
With deflections, screens and other tricks, they were able to get the puck past Price.
“I think that is the key, going to the inside, driving on the net, and taking his eyes away,” stated Yanni Gourde. He got his stick on a Blake Coleman shot in the second period to deflect the puck past Price.
Game 2 will take place Wednesday night in Tampa.
The Lightning want to be the first team to win again as champions after the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Take a look at Game 1.
Lightning’s top line prospers
Kucherov’s goal on the first game was a Montreal goal. However, he scored a goal past Price to give Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead following a Tampa Bay faceoff victory.
Kucherov was left off the scoreboard in Game 7, against the Islanders. He finished with two goals, and an assist. Brayden Point had three assists during a streak of nine consecutive goals in the second and third rounds.
After undergoing hip surgery, Kucherov now has 30 points.
He said, “We just follow our game plan.” “Coaches tells us what to do, and we’re doing a great job listening.”
Kucherov and Point assisted on Stamkos’ power-play goal, which put Tampa Bay up 5-1. The Canadiens had gone 13 games without allowing a power-play goal.
“We know what we have with our power play group and we know the plays that we can make,” Stamkos said. “And when we’re confident and when we’re making those plays, we go out there and execute and we did that at the end. So maybe a little confidence for our (power play) going forward.”
Two defensemen picked up their first career playoff goal during the game.
Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak deflected an Ondrej Palat pass past Price in the first period for a 1-0 lead.
It was his first playoff goal in 46 postseason games.
Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot ended an even longer playoff drought with a goal in his 52nd postseason game.