The Dallas Stars’ Stanley Cup Final debut could not have been better scripted. A rested group started on their toes, got on the scoreboard early, and were able to shut down a usually dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning team in a shot-filled third period.
Dallas did take several penalties, and special teams led to high-danger chances while slanting the ice, but if you look at what happened at even-strength, there’s nothing to show that the Stars ever got out of their comfort zone. A two-goal lead led to an empty-netter that iced a 4-1 final score for Game 1.
For all the hype about shots in the third period for the Lightning, the Stars did a great job of dictating where those shots came from, and Anton Khudobin handled everything that was thrown his way.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jamie Benn (14) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Mattias Janmark (13) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Roope Hintz (24) - Corey Perry (10)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Jason Dickinson (18) - Blake Comeau (15)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Joel Hanley (39) - Andrej Sekera (5)
Anton Khudobin (35)
Tampa Bay Lightning Lineup
Ondrej Palat (18) - Brayden Point (21) - Nikita Kucherov (86)
Barclay Goodrow (19) - Yanni Gourde (37) - Blake Coleman (20)
Alex Killorn (17) - Anthony Cirelli (71) - Tyler Johnson (9)
Cedric Paquette (13) - Patrick Maroon (14)
Victor Hedman (77) - Kevin Shattenkirk (22)
Mikhail Sergachev (98) - Erik Cernak (81)
Ryan McDonagh (27) - Luke Schenn (2)
Zach Bogosian (24)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (88)
In some ways, this game didn’t stick to form. Offensively, Dallas got out to a lead — primarily from getting the puck into the slot. With a lead, the Stars didn’t need to utilize their net-front and shot-from-the-point offense, and by the third period, they dropped into their comfortable shell.
Defensively, the Stars controlled the center of the ice, both the slots, where the Lightning focus their offensive zone attention, and by forcing neutral ice play to the outside. Tampa Bay couldn’t generate any speed coming into the Dallas end, and once they made it into the offensive zone, they couldn’t get any space to set up their lethal offense.
Keys to the Game
Adjustments or Lack Thereof. The Stars never got out of their comfort zone in Game 1, so it’s hard to argue that anything needs to change. Tampa Bay didn’t execute on their game plan — but the question that remains is whether that was a Lightning issue or a Stars issue. The teams have made it this far by playing “their game”, so for Game 2, I’d expect both teams to emphasize sticking to form, but better.
Cogliano-Dickinson-Comeau. The Stars’ shutdown line got their time against the top Lightning line, and they were able to suck the air out of the dangerous trio. Tampa Bay may look to isolate a different group of Stars, and if they can, that line will need to step up to the challenge.
Active Defense. Dallas maintained the trend of having active defenders as major offensive contributors. For the Stars, this is becoming a prime source of goals. The Lightning, especially Victor Hedman, can play this game as well and this is one area to expect a major Tampa Bay emphasis.
Netminding. Vasilevskiy wasn’t bad in Game 1, but he did look beatable. Khudobin faced more chances, but only a handful taxed him. Either is capable of stealing any single game.
Did you know (I don’t know)?
In Game 1, both Joel Hanley and Jason Dickinson scored their first goal of the playoffs. When was the last time that two players for the same team scored their first goal of the playoffs in a Stanley Cup Final game?