Anton Khudobin, Stars Fend off Lightning to Take 1-0 Lead in Stanley Cup Final

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIISeptember 20, 2020

Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin (35) defends against the Edmonton Oilers in the overtime period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)
Matt Strasen/Associated Press

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final belongs to the Dallas Stars.

The Western Conference champions defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1on Saturday night as the series opened up inside the NHL bubble at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. 

It's the first victory for the Stars in the Stanley Cup Final since Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils in 2000. That year, Dallas would fail to defend its NHL title and has struggled to return to the league's biggest stage since. 

The Bolts are playing without their captain, elite scorer Steven Stamkos, who continues to rehab a lower body injury suffered in early July. Tampa Bay is optimistic he'll be able to make his 2020 postseason debut during the Final. 

After defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders in the first three rounds, the Lightning face a significant challenge against a Stars team that improbably eliminated the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights en route to a Western Conference title. 

Notable Performers

Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars: 35 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed

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Jamie Oleksiak, D, Dallas Stars: 1 Goal, 6 Hits, 5 Blocks

Esa Lindell, D, Dallas Stars: 1 Assist, 3 Hits, 4 Blocks

Yanni Gourde, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 Goal, 2 SOG, 2 Blocks

Joel Hanley's Historic Goal

When defenseman Joel Hanley scored the opening goal of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, it was the Dallas Stars' first goal in the Cup Final in 20 years. 

It was Hanley's first goal ever. 

Through 46 games in the NHL across five seasons, Hanley had come up empty. An extremely physical shift in just his eighth playoff contest helped change that. 

Barely five minutes into the first period, the Stars forecheck went to work in the Tampa Bay zone with Joel Kiviranta finishing a hard check on the Bolts' Brayden Point. It was a particularly strong hit on Point, who has been battling injuries this postseason, and sent the puck flying around the boards. Tampa's Luke Schenn went after it only to get laid out by Dallas' Alexander Radulov. 

The two hits opened up space for Hanley in the low slot where he buried a feed from winger Roope Hintz.

Detroit's Bruce MacGregor was the last person to score their first career goal in the Cup Final during Game 4 in 1961. 

The good news is the Red Wings won that game, the bad news is they would go onto lose the series to the Chicago Black Hawks. As long as the Stars continue to play like they did on Saturday, Dallas won't have to worry about the latter outcome. 

Tampa Bay Offense Goes Quiet 

During the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders, the Bolts appeared to get any shot they wanted at any time. 

One game into the Cup Final, it's clear the same won't be true with Dallas. 

The Lightning's high-octane offense was silenced by the Stars despite a fast-paced game that seemingly favored Tampa Bay. Equally as concerning was the lack of discipline shown by the Bolts early on. 

That combination cannot continue if Tampa is going to take control of the series. 

The Lightning went nearly nine minutes between shots on goal in the first period and finished the frame with just four shots on net total—just the 12th period this season where Tampa had four shots or less. 

Through two periods the Stars led the shot battle 18-14 before switching to a defensive style after going up 3-1 late in the third. Dallas was outshot 22-2 in the final period, but it hardly mattered as goalie Anton Khudobin turned everything aside except for a puck that bounced through traffic and off his skate in the first period for the Lightning's lone goal.

The Bolts finished with 16 penalty minutes—including a 10-minute misconduct from Patrick Maroon for shooting the puck into the Dallas bench—and wasted three power play attempts on the night. 

That will need to change as soon as possible for the Lightning to get back into the series. 


What's Next

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is scheduled for Monday, September 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.