Wholesome Hockey: Perry is Pristine, Game Six coming!
Corey Perry ended the night with two goals. The second goal was the one that forced a Game Six and gave the Stars a 3-2 victory and will likely be the one that we point to if the Stars are able to come back and win this series. Once again, we saw the virtue of crowding the net pay off. A blue line turnover gave the Stars the prime opportunity and Perry crashed to the crease. A deflected shot from the point had Perry finding the puck in the crease. Corey Perry played the patience and poked the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
As this game progressed, Most fans were likely convinced that the Lightning were going to win the game and hoist the cup. You wouldn't be blamed for assuming this. The Lightning have become accustomed to overtime and overtime victories. In fact, Tampa Bay clinched the three prior series with an overtime winner.
It almost felt inevitable that the Lightning would win as the game entered second overtime. Yet, we learned once again, all it takes is one great drive and one great shot to the net. Corey Perry was in the ideal place for a deflected puck and a goal became a certainty.
Corey Perry's overtime winner and Joe Pavelski's game-equalizer were a reminder of the value of experience in a Stanley Cup Final. The two veterans were brought in this off-season figuring to be contributors and veteran presences. Both players reminded us why they were brought in and the experience they possess.
Like Perry, Joe Pavelski's goal reminded us of the importance of crashing the net. A slapshot from the point is expected to be saved. Yet the shot landed in the lap of Joe Pavelski who was perched in front of the net. The instant reaction to fire the puck back on the net gave the Stars hope. The goal tied a game that looked convincingly to be Tampa Bay's.
Earlier in the game, Corey Perry scored the first goal. It's easy to forget that Perry had the first-period goal considering he scored the game-winner. It also is easy to forget that the goal was pure skill rather than the experience we saw from the overtime winner. The quick move and the shot that went to the top shelf on the pad side gave the Stars the 1-0 lead.
After the early goal from Dallas, the Lightning continued to prove why they are the best team in hockey. Tampa Bay's defense eliminated most opportunities of the Stars and left them few uninspired shots. Meanwhile, the offense started to pick up the slack. Ondrej Palat maneuvered around the defense and Anton Khudobin to tie the game. Mikhail Sergachev hit a slapshot through traffic to take the lead in the final period. It felt inevitable that Tampa Bay was going to complete the revenge tour and hoist the Stanley Cup.
Even as we entered overtime, this thought permeated. Tampa Bay was simply outplaying Dallas. The Lightning had already won six overtime games in the playoffs. Three of those overtime goals were series-enders. The Lighting were prepared for overtime and were more prepared for double overtime.
Yet I was wrong, and many fans were likely deceived as well. Corey Perry hit the game-winner in the crease to force Game Six. A Game Six in a series that has seen great defense and even greater goaltending. Watching these games makes anyone feel like the next goal will be the last one.