Lightning strike first in Game 1 of Stanley Cup final against Canadiens

Welcome to Kevin McGran’s Lightning vs. Canadiens live blog for Game 1. Join us here for live updates and analysis throughout the game, and full post-game takeaways to come after the buzzer.FIRST PERIODTampa defenceman Erik Cernak joined the rush and deflected the puck into the net, his first goal in 20 games.It gave Tampa a 1-0 lead just 6:19 into the first period.It's only the fifth time in 18 games Montreal failed to score the first goal. The first goal seems to matter. The Canadiens were 1-3 when the other team scores first. They're 11-2 when they score first. The Lightning are 12-2 when scoring first in the post-season.PRE-GAME SKATEThe first piece of real news is in: Jake Evans will play for Montreal, his first game since he was concussed in Game 1 of the second round series against Winnipeg. Joel Armia got to Tampa in time, took the warmups, but maybe because he hasn't practised for a few days due to COVID protocols, sits.Hockey Night's cameras caught Carey Price shaking off a warmup shot from Shea Weber. Collar-bone area.Speaking of Price, you should read this story from the Star's Alex McKeen on Ulkatcho, a 900-member First Nation community that he calls home, supporting him through this playoff run.For those watching at home, this will be the first time Chris Cuthbert has called a Stanley Cup final game. Hard to believe. But it's part of the reason he left TSN to join Sportsnet. I did a QandA with him in the bubble last year. You can read that by clicking here.GAME PREVIEWGoalie battleThis is the first time two Vezina winners faced each other since 1999 (Dominik Hasek vs. Ed Belfour). You'd think the goalies would be a little more excited about it.Andrei Vasilevkiy on facing Carey Price: “In the final there's always two great teams playing against each other, so it'll be obviously a big challenge for both teams. Carey, obviously he's a great goalie: one of the best in the NHL, so I'll give him my best effort, for sure. Just got to stick with the plan and just keep doing what I've done so far.”Carey Price on facing Andrei Vasilevksiy: “He’s been playing great. He’s a big body, battles hard. Just kind of the same story with every goalie—we’re just going to have to get some traffic and bang in some rebounds.”Riveting stuff, eh?Home team advantageThe Lightning are trying to win back-to-back Cup titles. Last year was a bit different, being in a bubble in Edmonton with no fans. This year? Lots of fans, as Lightning forward Blake Coleman described: “We know how hard it is to get here. We're very excited, obviously. There's a little bit of a different buzz just knowing that, we're opening this in front of our home fans. We know the city's behind us, it's electric around here. There's Tampa flags everywhere, there's people, neighbours, you name it. Everyone's excited about what's going on here, so it's fun to share it with people. We really just had each other last year, which was another just unique, obviously a great experience just to have that intimate experience with the team. It's a nice change of pace here to have fans and to have people in the community be part of it. You know that's what the game is all about is sharing it with your community and feeling that energy and excitement.”Where's Joel?The bit pre-game drama was the whereabouts of Joel Armia. He didn't join the Canadiens on the flight down because of COVID-19 protocols. But by Monday morning, he was cleared and on a private jet to Tampa. If he makes it in time, he'll likely play. If not, Jake Evans will likely see his first action since being concussed in Game 1 against the Jets in the second round.LinesHabsLehkonen - Danault - GallagherToffoli - Suzuki - CaufieldByron - Kotkaniemi - AndersonEvans/Armia - Staal - PerryChiarot - WeberEdmundson - PetryPriceAllenBoltsPalat – Point – KucherovKillorn – Cirelli – StamkosGoodrow -Gourde - ColemanMaroon – Johnson – ColtonHedman-McDonaghSergachev – CernakSavard – SchennVasilveskiyMcElhinneyGOT A QUESTION? Email me at askkevinmcgran@gmail.com and I’ll answer it in Friday’s Mailbag. 

Lightning strike first in Game 1 of Stanley Cup final against Canadiens

Welcome to Kevin McGran’s Lightning vs. Canadiens live blog for Game 1. Join us here for live updates and analysis throughout the game, and full post-game takeaways to come after the buzzer.

FIRST PERIOD

Tampa defenceman Erik Cernak joined the rush and deflected the puck into the net, his first goal in 20 games.

It gave Tampa a 1-0 lead just 6:19 into the first period.

It's only the fifth time in 18 games Montreal failed to score the first goal. The first goal seems to matter. The Canadiens were 1-3 when the other team scores first. They're 11-2 when they score first. The Lightning are 12-2 when scoring first in the post-season.

PRE-GAME SKATE

The first piece of real news is in: Jake Evans will play for Montreal, his first game since he was concussed in Game 1 of the second round series against Winnipeg. Joel Armia got to Tampa in time, took the warmups, but maybe because he hasn't practised for a few days due to COVID protocols, sits.

Hockey Night's cameras caught Carey Price shaking off a warmup shot from Shea Weber. Collar-bone area.

Speaking of Price, you should read this story from the Star's Alex McKeen on Ulkatcho, a 900-member First Nation community that he calls home, supporting him through this playoff run.

For those watching at home, this will be the first time Chris Cuthbert has called a Stanley Cup final game. Hard to believe. But it's part of the reason he left TSN to join Sportsnet. I did a QandA with him in the bubble last year. You can read that by clicking here.

GAME PREVIEW

Goalie battle

This is the first time two Vezina winners faced each other since 1999 (Dominik Hasek vs. Ed Belfour). You'd think the goalies would be a little more excited about it.

Andrei Vasilevkiy on facing Carey Price: “In the final there's always two great teams playing against each other, so it'll be obviously a big challenge for both teams. Carey, obviously he's a great goalie: one of the best in the NHL, so I'll give him my best effort, for sure. Just got to stick with the plan and just keep doing what I've done so far.”

Carey Price on facing Andrei Vasilevksiy: “He’s been playing great. He’s a big body, battles hard. Just kind of the same story with every goalie—we’re just going to have to get some traffic and bang in some rebounds.”

Riveting stuff, eh?

Home team advantage

The Lightning are trying to win back-to-back Cup titles. Last year was a bit different, being in a bubble in Edmonton with no fans. This year? Lots of fans, as Lightning forward Blake Coleman described: “We know how hard it is to get here. We're very excited, obviously. There's a little bit of a different buzz just knowing that, we're opening this in front of our home fans. We know the city's behind us, it's electric around here. There's Tampa flags everywhere, there's people, neighbours, you name it. Everyone's excited about what's going on here, so it's fun to share it with people. We really just had each other last year, which was another just unique, obviously a great experience just to have that intimate experience with the team. It's a nice change of pace here to have fans and to have people in the community be part of it. You know that's what the game is all about is sharing it with your community and feeling that energy and excitement.”

Where's Joel?

The bit pre-game drama was the whereabouts of Joel Armia. He didn't join the Canadiens on the flight down because of COVID-19 protocols. But by Monday morning, he was cleared and on a private jet to Tampa. If he makes it in time, he'll likely play. If not, Jake Evans will likely see his first action since being concussed in Game 1 against the Jets in the second round.

Lines

Habs

Lehkonen - Danault - Gallagher

Toffoli - Suzuki - Caufield

Byron - Kotkaniemi - Anderson

Evans/Armia - Staal - Perry

Chiarot - Weber

Edmundson - Petry

Price

Allen

Bolts

Palat – Point – Kucherov

Killorn – Cirelli – Stamkos

Goodrow -Gourde - Coleman

Maroon – Johnson – Colton

Hedman-McDonagh

Sergachev – Cernak

Savard – Schenn

Vasilveskiy

McElhinney

GOT A QUESTION? Email me at askkevinmcgran@gmail.com and I’ll answer it in Friday’s Mailbag.