Stars strike first in rout­ing gimpy Light­ning in Game 1

Dal­las goalie Khu­dobin fin­ishes with 22 3rd-pe­riod saves

Daily Camera (Boulder) - - Sports -

ED­MON­TON, Al­ber ta — The well-rested Dal­las Stars took it to the banged-up Tampa Bay Light­ning with the play and phys­i­cal­ity early and goal­tender Anton Khu­dobin closed it out with 22 third-pe­riod saves to win Game 1 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal 4-1 on Satur­day night.

Joel Han­ley and Jamie Olek­siak con­tin­ued the Stars’ post­sea­son trend of get­ting goals from de­fense­men, and sec­ond-round Game 7 hat trick hero Joel Kivi­ranta scored late in the sec­ond pe­riod to pro­vide some breath­ing room. Khu­dobin con­tin­ued to shine in his first playof fs as the star ter, mak­ing 35 saves, some of them in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion.

Khu­dobin was at his best in the third when the Light­ning found their legs and tilted the ice to­ward him. He came up big on two penalty kills and strength­ened his case for the Conn Smythe Tro­phy as play­off MVP.

Game 1 started out look­ing ever y bit like Dal­las had four days off since win­ning the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal and Tampa Bay just one af­ter clinch­ing the East. The Stars, who grinded their way through the play­offs with tight-check­ing tough­ness, came out hit­ting, know­ing the Light­ning are not fully healthy.

Stars for­ward Blake Comeau hit 6-foot-6 Light­ning de­fense­man Vic­tor Hed­man on one of the first shifts, and Kivi­ranta crushed top cen­ter Bray­den Point into the boards to set up Han­ley’s first NHL goal of any kind. De­fense­man Esa Lin­dell also got into the action early with Point, cross-check­ing him and lev­el­ing him in open ice.

Four of the Stars’ 25 first­pe­riod hits were on Point, who missed two games in the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal and is vis­i­bly play­ing through pain. No. 2 cen­ter An­thony Cirelli in­jured his right leg in the sixth game of that se­ries 48 hours be­fore this one started.

There was no rest for the wear y Light­ning, who were a step slow in the first cou­ple of pe­ri­ods af­ter fail­ing to close out the New York Is­lan­ders in five and need­ing over­time to move on. The fi­nal still would have star ted two days later as the league tries to speed

through the bub­ble playof fs and award the Stan­ley Cup, but they would’ve ac­cu­mu­lated 73 fewer min­utes of wear and tear.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of that was a point of em­pha­sis for the Stars. Play­ers could be heard yelling, “Hit ‘em!” at points through­out the game in the empty arena as Dal­las tries to wear down Tampa Bay much like St. Louis did to Bos­ton in the fi­nal last year.

Much is dif­fer­ent 15 months since the Blues won it all for the first time in franchise his­tory. Dal­las is try­ing for its first ti­tle since 1999 and Tampa Bay since 2004, though this Light­ning core reached the fi­nal in 2015.

Bruce Ben­nett / Getty Im­ages

Stars goal­tender Anton Khu­dobin makes a save on a shot from the Light­ning's Alex Kil­lorn on Satur­day night dur­ing the third pe­riod of Game 1 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal at Rogers Place in Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta.

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