In terms of flow of play, there was a stark difference between the first period and the final two frames. The Lightning controlled most of the opening period. When counting shot attempts, the Lightning had 24 and the ‘Hawks only 11 in the first period. But in the second and third, Chicago posted 41 and the Lightning had only 22. The discrepancy in the shot differential is tied to puck possession. In the first period, the Lightning had the puck much more than Chicago. But in the second and third, that opposite was true.
A puck possession advantage in the second and third wasn’t the only reason why the Blackhawks rallied for a Game One win, but it was an important factor. Without the puck for much of the second and third, the Lightning had a hard time sustaining offensive zone pressure and generating scoring chances. Likewise, the ‘Hawks had numerous opportunities to put pucks toward the net in the final 40 minutes – and they eventually cashed in for two third period goals.
Lightning fans might be wondering why the team couldn’t keep playing the same way it did in the first period once the second period began. First of all, the ‘Hawks played better themselves after the first, moving the puck quickly and effectively out of their own zone. That allowed them to get more pucks deep in the Tampa Bay end. Second, the Lightning weren’t moving the puck as quickly or effectively as they did in the first. As a result, they committed more turnovers and endured long shifts in their own end. A number of those turnovers didn’t prove to be costly. But two of them were. Moments before each Chicago goal, the Lightning had possession of the puck – and ended up losing it.
There were positives about the Lightning’s play in those final two periods, though. Despite the fact that Chicago had most of the puck possession, the Lightning defended well without the puck (a continuation of how they defended without the puck during their Game Five and Seven wins in the Eastern Conference Final). The ‘Hawks were held to 21 shots on goal – and the Bolts blocked 16 others. And even with their limited puck possession time, the Lightning still managed to generate several good chances themselves in the second and third. They may have been isolated chances, but they were still Grade-A looks. Had Corey Crawford not made key saves on Steven Stamkos twice in the second, on a Cedric Paquette tip in the second and on a Ryan Callahan breakaway in the third, the Lightning likely win this game.
In Game Two, the Lightning will look to simplify their game by moving pucks quickly up ice and deep into the Chicago end. That should help them spend more time in the offensive zone. And as they showed in the first period, when the Lightning are on their game, they are a handful for the ‘Hawks.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Teuvo Teravainen’s tying goal in the third period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Corey Crawford – Blackhawks. 22 saves for win.
2.Teuvo Teravainen – Blackhawks. Goal and assist.
3.Alex Killorn – Lightning. Goal.