Lightning’s Jon Cooper on Stanley Cup Game 1: ‘Right team won’


The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to put their lackluster performance in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final far behind them.

The two-time defending champions dropped the first game of their series Wednesday to the Colorado Avalanche 4-3, but the overtime contest was far more one-sided than the final score conveys.

The Avalanche – who last took the ice on June 6 when they swept the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place – wasted no time showcasing their ferocious pace as soon as the first puck dropped. Colorado took a 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the contest and largely controlled the flow of the game despite allowing the Lightning to hang around. The dagger came 1:23 into overtime, when Andre Burakovsky netted a one-timer from the right circle to send the home crowd into a state of pandemonium. 

J.T. Compher of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates after overtime winning goal.

With both teams at full strength on the ice, the Avalanche outshot Tampa Bay 32-18 while recording 59.52% of scoring chances, 56.36% of shot attempts and 71.24% expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick.

“There’s some positive signs for us in this game, but the right team won the game,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said following the disappointing loss. “Give them credit for pulling it out. We’ve got better in us, though. I don’t think, by a country mile, we gave them our best game and we still had a chance to pull it out.”

Tampa’s loss continued to build upon what has been a puzzling occurrence for the Lightning’s star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is 1-3 with an .884 save percentage and 3.99 goals against average over the four Game 1s he has played this postseason. Outside those poor performances, the goaltender is 11-3 with a strong 1.90 GAA.

Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Game 1
Colorado took a commanding 2-0 lead within the first ten minutes of the contest and largely controlled the flow of the game.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As for Colorado, they now retain a coveted series lead despite missing forwards Nazem Kadri (right thumb) and Andrew Cogliano (right hand), who were injured in last series versus Edmonton.

This early on in the series, it seems Tampa has little to worry about. The Lightning got to this point despite trailing three times to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and falling behind 2-0 against the Rangers in the conference final.

Game 2 is set for Saturday in Denver.

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