It’s the day myself and Tampa Bay Area have been waiting for. The quest to defend our title has begun. And it began with a bang. After unveiling the 2020 Stanley Cup Championhip banner, the organization elected not to raise it to the rafters to join their banner for 2003-2004 until fans return to Thunder Bay, and a proper celebration can be had.
The Lightning dominated from the start, scoring 3 goals in the first period. Ondrej Palat kicked off the scoring on a beautiful hand eye coordination move kicking the puck up from his skates to his stick and past Chicago goalie Malcolm Subban. Mathew Joseph and Anthony Cireili scored 1:39 seconds apart late in the 1st to extend Tampa’s lead to 3-0. Erik Cernak fired a shot into the net but was ruled no goal due to an interference penalty on Ondrej Palat. Tampa scored their second power play goal at the 9:56 of the 2nd period extending their lead to 4-0. Captain Steven Stamkos provided a vintage one timer that Subban never had a chance to stop. Stamkos later made a beautiful effort to set up a lay up goal from Brayden Point just before the 7 minute mark of the 3rd making it a commanding 5-0 bolts. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout was spoiled by a bizarre bounce off of a Erik Cernak’s skate and between the Russian netminder’s legs. Dylan Strome was credited with Chicago’s only goal late in the 3rd period. The Lightning out shot the Blackhawks 33-22.
Stamkos silenced doubters questioning his health and what he can still do on the ice looking to be in mid season form. Registering A goal and an assist. The Bolts made a statement with their opening night victory. They are a very good team and they will stop at nothing to win another Stanley Cup.