TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens were even throughout most of four matchups in the regular season. Most expect this Eastern Conference quarterfinals series to be even in the weeks ahead.
Game 1, after haymakers from both sides, played to the script Wednesday.
The Canadiens edged the Lightning 5-4 at Tampa Bay Times Forum in overtime, with a goal from winger Dale Weise.
Early, leads were short-lived. The Lightning scored first with a goal from winger Nikita Kucherov 10:09 into the first period. The Canadiens answered with a goal from center Tomas Plekanec 19 seconds later.
Later, Lightning center Steven Stamkos glided coast-to-coast and zipped the puck past Carey Price 13:24 into the second period. At 16:39, winger Brian Gionta answered with a short-handed goal on a rebound against Anders Lindback.
There were four combined goals in the third period, two from each side. Stamkos tied the score at four with a goal 13:27 into the third period. Then wild play after regulation followed.
Game 1 was everything most expected: Tight, competitive, low-scoring. Ready for more?
Here’s a quick look back …
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
THE TURNING POINT
The decisive goal by Weise. Game 1 was oh-so tight, and the difference between the two teams was razor thin. Someone had to blink after regulation. Turns out, it was Lindback.
STAR OF THE GAME
Stamkos. He had two goals and kept his team in the game all night, despite Tampa Bay being outshot 35-16 in regulation. The captain must continue this level of play throughout the series to push the Lightning to the next round.
WHAT IT MEANS
A 1-0 series hole is nothing that can’t be overcome. Still, it means if Montreal holds court at home, this series will end in the Canadiens’ favor. Given the history between these teams this season, though, a Tampa Bay recovery seems likely.