It started so well. It ended so badly. For Tampa.
For a large chunk of the game, the Lightning looked like they could take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
But at the 53 minute mark, young-gun Blackhawk Teuvo Teranvainen finally cracked open Tampa’s defence. He’s only been with the Chicago Blackhawks for a few months, but many are saying the 20-year-old Finn is rapidly gaining a reputation for “big-game greatness”.
He scored dramatically late in the third period and just 1:58 later, Antoine Vermette stunned with another goal for the Hawks. There was only 4:34 left, and that wasn’t enough for the Lightning, whose fans were silenced there on home-ice at Amalie Arena.
Corey Crawford totalled 22 saves for the Blackhawks tonight, while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were uncharacteristically out of the spotlight.
All the attention was instead on Teravainen, who was more concerned about his public speaking skills than his even more public scoring. “When I scored the goal, the first thing [I thought] was ‘Oh no, I have to go out in the media after the game’”.
Well, keep playing this way, and he’ll be facing the media even more. But it shouldn’t be a problem, when the guy is obviously so down-to-earth. “We have a lot of experience, but myself, I’m a young guy here, so I try to bring some energy. Tampa Bay is a really great team… you have to be ready”.
This was meant to be a celebration of Tampa Bay’s first trip the Final since winning in 2004. But they’ll have to pull out of the stops in the games that follow to outplay the Blackhawks, who are hungry for their third NHL title in six seasons. And that right there, is a lot of motivation.