TAMPA, Fla. — The Montreal Canadiens’ return to the NHL’s biggest stage didn’t go as planned.
Tampa Bay star Nikita Kucherov scored a pair of goals as the defending-champion Lightning comfortably dismissed the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.
Erik Cernak, Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning, who opened up a close game with a three-goal third period.
Ben Chiarot had the only goal for the Canadiens.
While the opening of the Cup final didn’t go Montreal’s way, the Canadiens have shown resiliency throughout these playoffs. The Habs lost 4-1 in the opening game of their semifinal with Vegas before handling the favoured Golden Knights in six games.
That was after Montreal came back from a 3-1 series deficit to knock off North Division top-seed Toronto in the first round and swept Winnipeg in the division final.
The Canadiens are the latest team to attempt to end Canada’s 28-year Stanley Cup drought. Montreal was the last Canadian team to hoist the iconic trophy when they won their 24th Cup back in 1993.
Until this year, Montreal had not made the Cup final since their last title. Vancouver (twice), Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa advanced the final series over that time, but were unable to bring the Cup back north of the border.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Tampa’s Amalie Arena. The series shifts to Montreal on Friday for Game 3, as the Stanley Cup final makes its debut at the Bell Centre. The Habs still called the old Montreal Forum home when they won the cup in ’93.
Tickets are at a premium for Montreal fans wanting to watch the Cup final in person.
Only 3,500 tickets were available for Montreal home games as of Monday, dispersed through a lottery system by the hockey club among its season ticket holders.
Ticket prices were as high as $1,500 each for red premium seats for Games 3 and 4 and $1,875 for a possible Game 6.
The cheapest seats in the upper bowl range cost $600 for the first two home contests on July 2 and July 5, rising to $750 for Game 6.
The Canadian Press