The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up where they left off at the end of the 2019-20 season with a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.
The Stanley Cup champions have shown they are ready to defend their title, even in the absence of Nikita Kucherov, who will miss the entire season following hip surgery. Moreover, the banner of their championship was erected in the heights of their amphitheater during a pre-match ceremony.
Steven Stamkos led his team with a three-point production. In addition to scoring his first goal of the campaign, he contributed to those of Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. Mathieu Joseph and Anthony Cirelli also hit the target for the home team.
Andrei Vasilevskiy came very close to signing his 22nd career shutout. A puck deflected by teammate Erik Cernak in net as the Blackhawks were on the power play with less than four minutes to go in the third period, however, deprived him of the shutout. The goal went to Dylan Strome.
Vasilevskiy faced a total of 23 shots while Malcolm Subban received 33 shots in front of the Blackhawks’ cage.
The Lightning and Blackhawks meet again on Friday in Tampa.