The reigning champions kicked off their second straight Stanley Cup appearance in a big way on Monday, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 1. Tampa Bay scored in the first period and never looked back, leading from wire-to-wire to win in a rout. Nikita Kucherov was phenomenal for Tampa Bay, scoring two goals to lift his team to victory. What’s the best choice for your NHL picks in the online sportsbook?
Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning
Date: Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
NHL Odds: Lightning -210
The Canadiens have been marching their way through the postseason and have been one of the best surprises. They were stopped in their tracks in Game 1, though, as they just didn’t seem prepared for the Lightning’s intensity straight out of the gates. Montreal got a lift from defenseman Ben Chiarot in the second period with a goal but was unable to score the rest of the matchup. And it was more fluke than anything as Chiarot threw the puck at the net and it pinballed off two Tampa Bay players.
It didn’t help that the Canadiens were being outworked defensively as well. Carey Price fended off 22 of the 27 opposing shots, giving him a lousy .815 save percentage. If the Canadiens want any hopes of storming back in Game 2 and evening this up, Price will have to defend the net a lot better. He was blitzed, though, as the Lightning put lots of traffic in front of him.
At the other end of the ice, more will be needed from Montreal’s offense. It really felt like the Habs were on their back heels all night and didn’t have many good scoring opportunities. They’ll have to change the pace and manufacture more opportunities if they want to compete here.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning came into this matchup just a few days after eliminating the New York Islanders in seven games by a score of 1-0. The short rest period didn’t seem to faze them much as they didn’t skip a beat. Kucherov was tremendous the entire night and got some help from Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos along the way. However, it wouldn’t be a Lightning game without a clinic from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He didn’t have to fend off many shots in Game 1, seeing only 19 sent in his direction, but he stopped 18 of them to walk away with a .947 save percentage. The lightning offense applied a lot of pressure, so they didn’t have to defend all that much. Their stellar goaltending has to be a confidence booster for their entire team as they are allowed to play a little looser due to the fact they have such terrific help behind them.
Coming into Game 2, the Lightning are going to have to get some more shots on the net. They were flustering Price the whole night and if they are able to get consistent looks at the net again, they should move up 2-0.