In Game 1, the Dallas Stars followed the tune, winning the first 40 minutes with their heavy win-the-net game that made the Tampa Bay Lightning look slow and pushed their skills to the edge of the ice.
But by taking three minor penalties in the opening period of Game 2, the Stars relinquished control, allowing a show of power play to erupt – which is right down the aisle of the Lightning.
It resulted in a 3-2 victory in Tampa, a series tied at one game apiece, and the start of this annual showdown over which team will impose their style in this Stanley Cup final.
“Sure,” agreed veteran Dallas center Joe Pavelski, who scored his 10th playoff goal on a dandy deflection. “There are some good teams that kind of have a basis for winning games, how you play. We were definitely closer to ours in the first game, and we moved away from it early in that game and it cost us. But there was no giving up and we started to find our game. It came back and we have to stay at that level to move forward.
And isn’t that always where the discussion goes? We start by seeing how Tampa managed to wrest the style of play from Dallas, then we argue over how long that lasted, until the Stars look at a 3-0 scorecard in the second period and decide to make a match of it.
“These are two very good teams competing against each other. Whoever controls the puck the most comes down to the face-offs, and special teams were obviously making the difference tonight, ”said Stars head coach Rick Bowness, whose team is used to overusing the bench. penalties throughout this COVID Cup. “It’s going to be a tough series. It’s an elite team. They’ve been here before. We have a lot of guys who have never been here before. Hope we will continue to improve. ”
Dallas had killed five consecutive power plays in Tampa in that final and had the Bolts’ top producers where they wanted them: clenching the sticks and feeling the pressure of a Cup final that started with the leaders in the Lightning shooting. White.
Then, in the game’s first power play, Nikita Kucherov was a go-to machine, handling the puck more like a ham-and-egger than the player whose Hart Trophy reign ended just before the game, when the star Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl was named the 2019-20 winner.
It looked like Tampa might have been stuck in Game 1 gear. So what did the stars do?
They took another penalty. And another.
The cardinal sin when the opponent’s skill players are rusty is giving them power play touches. So that they can start feeling good again with the puck on their clubs.
“When we stay off the beaten track we have seen… we are a good team,” Pavelski said. “When you give their top players that kind of confidence, they play with the puck, they get a little momentum… We can kill one, two, three [penalties] a night. We don’t need to kill three, four per period.
By the end of the first period, Kucherov had set up Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat for the power play snipes, and when Kevin Shattenkirk found the twine, the Stars had lost 3-0 in the first intermission.
“That’s where we lost the game today,” said Mattias Janmark. “We don’t want penalties. We took way too much throughout the playoffs.
But don’t just blame the stars. That’s how a talented team like Tampa turns the game around: They find a way to play on the power play, then they bury you with the man advantage.
Then you try to take penalties, and the extra half a second or six inches of ice that creates is what they use to beat you in the next quarter.
“It’s easy to explain,” Bowness argued. “We lost face-offs, we were returning the puck and taking penalties. It was a level game until we started taking penalties. Their connected power play.
“Faceoffs, turnovers and penalties. Things you can’t afford to do against a team like this.
Here we go people.
It’s now a best-of-five, and we look forward to when it becomes a best-of-three.
Because whoever takes control of how this final plays out, don’t worry. The other team will steal it.