The game came pretty much as advertised as it was two of the best and most exciting teams in hockey battling it out in an exciting and fast paced match. It’s two top-tier teams playing fast and skilled hockey without much of a trap system slowing down the speed or after whistle antics.
No drama, just hockey.
Despite the loss, Carolina showed that it can hang with the defending champions and probably would have won Game 1 if it wasn’t for the otherworldly abilities of Andrei Vasilevskiy and tremendous blunder of Alex Nedeljkovic.
The Canes controlled the majority of the game and really carried play throughout with good chances and looks, but it was hard for them to beat arguably the best goaltender in the league in Vasilevskiy.
The vaunted Tampa Bay power play — which had carved the Florida Panthers apart with a 40% success rate — got there’s as the talented top unit got the first goal of the game with Brayden Point managing to tip home a Victor Hedman feed five-hole, but the Canes did do a good job shutting it down the rest of the way.
On the flip side of the special teams battle, Carolina’s power play just wasn’t good enough, scoring only once on five attempts.
But the man-advantage did show a bit of life, managing to tie the game up early into the third period with their fourth opportunity.
With the power play nearly expired, it was the second unit and rookie defenseman Jake Bean — scoring his first goal since February 27 — beating Vasilevskiy with a blast from the point through traffic.
Jake Bean from downtown!— y - Canes Country (@CanesCountry) May 30, 2021
The Hurricanes and Lightning are tied up in game one! pic.twitter.com/OBge93Obk5
But from there, the Canes were riding all of the momentum. Shots and chances piled up for Carolina as it seemed that they were on the cusp of breaking through, but the true back breaker came with under seven minutes left in the game.
From a bad angle and on a shot that never even left the ice, Barclay Goodrow threw a puck on net that for whatever reason Nedeljkovic just ended up completely whiffing on. It was a brutal goal that just couldn’t happen in a playoff game, much less in that very moment.
But it did and Carolina would lose 2-1 with the sole reason being that goal.
The team has shown time and time again though that it’s a resilient group and it can be expected that the Hurricanes will come storming out for Game 2 on Tuesday looking to tie the series back up.