The Dallas Stars were ready to go as soon as the puck was dropped against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With great skating, hitting, and especially goaltending, the well-rested Stars took the first game 4-1.
The legend of Anton Khudobin
The 34-year-old career journeyman has been the story of the playoffs. Since losing to the Vegas Knights on September 8th, Khudobin has been lights out.
He has allowed 6 goals in the last 4 games, all for victories. Against the Lighting, Khudobin was immaculate. The only score for Tampa Bay was a double deflection off of Yani Gourde’s skate then Roope Hintz’s boot. Just an absolute crazy bounce.
As the Stars were up 3-1 after 2, Tampa Bay came out firing in the 3rd. Khudobin remained unfaced and continued to do his best impersonation of a brick wall.
The Lightning outshot the Stars 36-20, including an unbelievable 22-2 difference in the 3rd. Khudobin committed the outright robbery to take game 1.
The best defense is a good offense
Throughout the playoffs, a huge part of Dallas’ success has been their defensemen producing offensively. Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg have combined for 40 points. However, an unlikely scorer got Dallas going.
29-year-old d-man Joel Hanley ripped one home just 5:40 into the contest. It was his first-ever goal in the NHL.
Ultimately, 5 of the Stars’ 6 defensemen walked away with 1 point. The Lighting will be in trouble if Dallas’ back-end continues being this productive.
Room to improve
The player Bruins fans are most interested in this series has to be Tyler Seguin. Strangely enough, with all his offensive talent, he has been quiet throughout the bubble.
In 21 games, he has mustered just 2 goals and 8 points. In-game 1, Seguin recorded 3 hits and 3 shots on goal but no points in 17 minutes.
You have to think he can not stay dormant for this long. At some point, he is going to explode for multiple points. Dallas has been able to get by without much from him. It seems hard to imagine the Stars beating the Lighting with Seguin not putting up points.
As both teams get ready for game 2 Monday, look for more chippiness and aggressive play of Tampa Bay. They have shown an uptick in resilience these playoffs compared to last spring.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones