The Lightning and the Penguins had scares throughout the game. In the first period, Ryan Callahan hit Pens’ defenseman Kris Letang from behind and Letang had to leave the ice. Callahan received a 5:00 major for the hit, which Tampa Bay killed off. Letang would return later in the period and finish the game. The hit should be looked at by the NHL Department of Player Safety and I wouldn’t be surprised if Callahan misses some time during the series.
Later in the first period, Ben Bishop came out of his net to play the puck, but was pressured by a Pittsburgh player. He was trying to track the puck and skate backward into his net at the same time. Bishop lunged to get into the net and fell back awkwardly. He went down onto the ice in pain, play was stopped and after a few minutes he was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Andrei Vasilevskiy, 21-years-old, came off the bench to replace the injured Bishop. After the game, Joon Cooper said that the x-rays were negative and there was no structural damage in a postgame interview on NBCSN.
Then the Lightning managed to keep their heads in the game, and score a goal. Victor Hedman made a nice stretch pass from the side of his own net to Alex Killorn at the Pens blue line. Killorn grabbed the puck, made a move around defenseman Olli Maatta, went forehand to backhand and guided the puck into the net for a Lightning lead. Tyler Johnson was also injured on a knee-to-knee hit by Chris Kunitz. Johnson saw Kunitz coming in for the hit, tried to move out of the way to avoid it, but Kunitz still caught him with his knee. Johnson would return to finish the game.
The Lightning continued its momentum and outscored the Penguins 2-1 in the second period. Ondrej Palat scored a power play goal at 2:23 of the period. Killorn kept the puck in and got it over to Jason Garrison, who passed to Valtteri Filppula. Filppula took the shot, the save was made by Murray, but the rebound came out a wide open Palat. Palat put the puck into the empty net. Filppula started a 3-on-1 rush into the Pens zone by poking the puck to Palat, who made a nice cross-ice pass to a wide open Jonathan Drouin. Drouin fired the puck into a wide open net for the 3-0 Tampa Bay lead.
The Penguins managed to score a power play goal with under a minute left in the period. Sidney Crosby made a nice no-look, between the leg pass to Patric Hornqvist, who was wide open in the slot, and the put in behind Vasilevskiy. Braydon Coburn seemed like he was screening Vasilevskiy on the goal. Pittsburgh made a push in the third period outshooting Tampa Bay 16-5, but Vasilevskiy was there to make saves. Brian Dumoulin was injured afer Palat hit him while he was away from the boards and didn’t return to the game.
The Lightning did a nice job of getting in the passing and shooting lanes and blocking shots. The line of Palat/Drouin/Filppula seemed to be the best line for the Bolts. The Pens will need to figure out a way to get traffic in front of the Bolts net and get the shots through. The Bolts played a physical game especially against the defenseman of Pittsburgh.
Game 2 will be on Monday night at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.