The Dallas Stars, on goals from Joel Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak, Joel Kiviranta, and Jason Dickinson, beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Saturday in the opening game of the NHL Stanley Cup final.
Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin stopped 35 shots for his 13th win of the post-season in front of no spectators at Rogers Place.
Yanni Gourde replied for the Lightning. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 16-of-19 shots as his playoff record falls to 14-6.
Game 2 goes Monday night.
Dallas had not played since finishing off the Vegas Golden Knights Monday night, while Tampa Bay wrapped up its series with the New York Islanders Thursday. The last two games of that series went into overtime.
Dallas took the first lead of the game less than six minutes in when Kiviranta smacked Lightning forward Brayden Point into the boards deep in Tampa’s end.
Tampa defenceman Zach Bogosian flew over to hit Kiviranta in retaliation, allowing Star forward Roope Hintz to gobble up the loose puck, swoop around untouched behind the net and feed Hanley in front for a shot blocker-side high past Vasilevskiy.
Tampa Bay then got a break on a bounce to tie the game before the period was out. Blake Coleman blasted a low slapshot from the point that Khudobin deflected with his pad right to Gourde’s skate, then to Hintz’s skate and into the back of the net.
Gourde has six goals in the post-season.
Dallas grabbed the lead back with less than eight minutes to go in the second period. Oleksiak took an Alexander Radulov pass, walked in untouched in the slot and fired a wrist shot. Vasilevskiy stopped it, but Oleksiak got his own rebound and zipped it under the crossbar and in.
Then Kiviranta, in the dying seconds of the second frame, got a similar bounce. Racing in at high speed his first shot was blocked by Mikhail Sergachev, but the puck caromed right back to Kiviranta, who shot again for his fifth goal of the post-season.
Tampa Bay put the Stars on their heels in the third period, dominating play in the Dallas end of the rink, but Khudobin turned aside 22 shots in the final 20 minutes to preserve the win.
Dickinson added an empty-netter with just over a minute to go for the final goal of the game.
Khudobin’s win pens another chapter in the storybook playoff performance by this journeyman backup goalie from Kazakhstan who got his chance to start in this post-season after Dallas starter Ben Bishop was injured.
Khudobin, Kiviranta, and Hanley are making the most of the next-man-up credo of the playoffs.
Kiviranta joined the lineup for an injured Andrew Cogliano in Game 7 of round 2, scoring a hat trick, including the overtime winner, to knock out the Colorado Avalanche out of the playoffs.
He then scored a late goal in the final game against Vegas to tie the score, allowing Dallas to go on and win in overtime and bounce the Golden Knights out of the bubble.
The 24-year-old Finn was signed as an undrafted free agent by Dallas in the spring of 2019 and was playing Saturday in just his 20th NHL game.
Hanley, an undrafted free-agent signee from Keswick, Ont., is playing in his seventh consecutive playoff game, replacing an injured Taylor Fedun in the lineup after Fedun replaced an injured Stephen Johns.
Oleksiak has five goals in the playoffs.
The Lightning are now 0-3 in Stanley Cup final opening games.
This is the final round of the so-called bubble playoffs. All post-season games have been played in front of no fans in Edmonton and Toronto, with players isolating between games to prevent contracting the coronavirus.
For the first period Saturday the players squared off literally in the shadow of the Stanley Cup. As there are no fans, the silver mug was placed on a draped stand on a platform erected above the players’ benches. Stanley had the best seat in the house.
Both franchises are seeking their second Cup. Dallas won in 1999 and Tampa Bay in 2004.
The Bolts are the first of the 10 NHL franchises that began play in the 1990s or later to reach the final three times. The Lightning lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.