Entertaining first shift as Toews gets a couple of great opportunities but Getzlaf and Hamhuis knock him off the puck, then it’s Fleury’s turn as he stones Pavelski on a breakaway. Bolts kill off the first powerplay opportunity of the series with Fleury denying a quality chance from Timonen. Ennis gets a breakaway midway thru the period but again it’s Fleury shutting the door….followed immediately up by a breakaway for Big Buf and he beats Khudobin for the first goal of the series. On the ensuing shift Hossa fires a shot from the top of the circle that eludes Khudobin and it’s 2-0 TB. A few minutes later Kopitar is the recipient of a sweet passing play by Carter and Hejda to extend the lead to 3-0. Fleury caps off his stellar opening 20 minutes by denying Robidas on a breakaway……3-0 TB after one despite being outshot 11-6.
Second period starts with a Voynov penalty and Patrick Sharp (moment of silence Hawks fans for the soon-to-be-departed core stud sniper…..thanks for the memories Sharpie…….ok thanks for the digression!) wastes no time banging in a one timer on the powerplay stretching the lead to 4-0. Bobby Ryan quickly quiets the raucous home crowd with an outside bomb to get the Yotes on the board. Teams start to go end to end with the goalies trading great saves, including Kopitar 1-14, Elias 1-13, and Byfuglien on a breakaway. Lupul sends an outside shot thru traffic that eludes Fleury and suddenly it’s a 4-2 game heading to the 3rd period. Shots in the period 15-11 TB.
Yotes are feeling the momentum and carry it into the 3rd period peppering the Bolts but unable to score, then it’s Chara connecting on a rebound to beat Khudobin to push the lead back to 5-2. Then it’s the Fleury show for the next few shifts as he stones Pavelski on a 1-9, Pacioretty on 1-15 and GR inside chance but finally (for PHX fans) Ward beats him on a breakaway chance at 13:04. Yotes continue to push and Ryan gets his 2nd of the night at 18:04 to cut the lead to a single goal, but that’s as close as they’d get as the Bolts hold on for a thrilling 5-4 victory in Game 1.
Games 3 stars……..3 – Sharp (1g,1a, 3 shots), 2 – Ryan (2g, 4 shots), 1 – Chara (gwg, 1a, 26:25 TOI). Fleury also strong with a plethora of breakaway saves and 6-7 on GR’s but did give up 4 goals (3 via the number variety) to fall just shy of a star.
Bolts use another big first period, getting goals from Toews and Richards, then continue pepper Khudobin with quality chances all night (6 in the first period, 12 for the game). The Yotes open up the offense in the 3rd period but despite a furious finish can only trade goals (Sharp and Pavelski) and fall in Game 2 by a 3-1 final. 3 Stars…..3-Sharp (1g,1a, 5s hots), 2-Toews (1g,1a, 5 shots, 8-11 on faceoffs), 1-Fleury (1ga, 7-8 GR’s)
Series heads to the desert…….
Tampa leads best of seven series 2-0.