The Dallas Stars are three wins away from their second championship in franchise history thanks to a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. But Monday night in Edmonton, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be fighting to even the series up with a win of their own.
Here is a preview for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Stars and Lightning. Despite losing the first game, Tampa Bay is still favored to win at -165 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Game 1 Recap
The Stars have made it to this point thanks in large part to the resurgence of veteran goaltender Anton Khudobin. Khudobin, who served as the backup to Ben Bishop during the regular season, made 35 saves, including 22 in the third period, to carry Dallas to a 4-1 win in Game 1.
Dallas made it a point to be aggressive and get hits on a banged-up Lightning team, racking up 25 hits in the first period. Early on, their hard-hitting style helped set up defenseman Joel Hanley’s first career NHL goal just under six minutes into the game. But the Bolts got one back later in the period when a fortunate bounce off the boards aided left-wing Yanni Gourde in scoring the game-tying goal.
The second period featured a few more shots from both teams, with only the Stars able to capitalize. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak scored the tie-breaking goal a little over halfway into the period, his fourth of the postseason, while left-wing Joel Kiviranta made it a two-goal game after scoring with just 28 seconds left on the clock.
Then in the third period, Khudobin shined brightest. The Lightning out-shot Dallas 22-2 in the period, while also having three power-play chances. But Khudobin was brilliant and kept the lead at two until center Jason Dickinson buried the empty-netter to push the Stars’ lead to three, where it would remain.
Keys to Victory – Stars and Lightning
Dallas will win if they make it ugly. The Stars established early on in Game 1 that they were going to hit hard and hit often. And while it’s not the glamorous style that we see a team like Tampa Bay use, it has gotten them to this point after beating other high-scoring teams like the Avalanche and Golden Knights.
For Game 2, the Stars will want to continue their aggressive forecheck to eliminate any speed the Lightning may be trying to create as they push the puck up the ice. They will also need to continue to limit high-danger scoring chances.
Saturday night, Tampa had 62 shot attempts with 42 making it on goal, but just seven were considered “high-danger.” If Dallas can continue to use their physicality to prevent the Bolts from really testing Khudobin, they’ll be in good shape.
Tampa Bay will win if they make Dallas pay for mistakes. This whole postseason, the once-vaunted Lightning power play has yet to reach their full potential. After going 0-for-3 in Game 1, all of them coming in the third period, Tampa is converting on 17 percent of their power plays, a big difference from the 26.5% success rate the Stars have on the man-advantage.
One thing that has worked for the Lightning is the penalty kill, which after two more successful stops on Saturday, is now 84% successful in the playoffs. Stopping Dallas’ opportunities on the power play is important, but so is converting when you’re on the advantage.
A lethal penalty kill is what has helped the Stars beat the Avs and Knights this postseason, so it may be the biggest factor as to whether the Lightning can pull this series off or not.
One disadvantage of the Stars’ physical style in that in can wear your team down. Expect Tampa Bay to use speed and quick passes to wear their opponents down early and force them to change their style. The third period was a good example of what the Lightning are capable of, heavily out-shooting their opponents and forcing them into making mistakes.
For Game 2, I’m banking on the Bolts once again. I don’t think it will be a blowout by any means, but I would feel okay about them winning by two or more goals, making -1.5 at +165 a solid option. As far as the game total (5.5 on FanDuel), I’ll be staying away.
Pick: Lightning -1.5 at +165