Long-time member of the Winnipeg Jets, Ben Chiarot, has finally found his first career postseason goal. It may have taken 52 games, but the ride was well worth the result… well, it was for a few minutes.
Unfortunately for the 30-year-old defenceman, Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final will not be something he looks back too fondly upon, despite the personal success.
Ultimately losing the game by a blowout score of 5-1 to the always dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning, Chiarot and Co. will need a better effort on Wednesday for the second game of the series to avoid heading back to Montreal down 2-0 through the series’ opening two matchups.
Giving up 27 shots on goal in the game, Montreal backstop Carey Price surrounded five goals, as compared to that of Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who only allowed on goal on 19 shots. The Habs fell behind 2-0 through 36 minutes of play, before the former Jets blueliner hammered a point shot into the net.
Chiarot’s first ever tally actually deflected twice before it found the twine, hitting Anthony Cirelli before rattling off Ryan McDonagh and past Vasilevskiy. Cutting the Bolts’ lead in half, Montreal entered the third period on a high, but unfortunately for Chiarot another double deflection worked against the Habs just moments into the final frame.
This time it was a Nikita Kucherov centring pass that floated to the Canadiens’ crease. Chiarot swatted at the puck but it ended up deflecting off his elbow pad, before finding the shaft of his stick and bouncing past Carey Price and into the Montreal net, restoring Tampa’s two-goal lead.
“We knew that they were going to come out pretty hard at the beginning,” Chiarot said post-game. “A couple bad bounces maybe didn’t go our way tonight, but I thought we had our game for a short period of time, but we’ll look to put a full game together in Game 2.”
Kucherov and captain Steven Stamkos added further markers late in the third period, brining the score to its 5-1 final. Stamkos’ tally came on the power play, breaking Montreal’s 13-game streak of no goals given up while shorthanded.
Although picking up his first career postseason goal, Chiarot finished the night a minus-2 with seven hits and a single shot on goal. The other former Jet, Joel Armia, travelled to Tampa Bay for the game on Monday, but did not participate after taking warmup following his false-positive COVID test from Sunday. Brandonite Joel Edmundson was also a minus-2 with seven hits in the game.
“Turnovers are definitely a factor,” Chiarot added. “That’s a team that thrives on turnovers… It’s definitely something we have to be aware of and make sure we’re smarter with the puck.”
Game 2 of the series goes at 7:00 PM central on Wednesday evening from Amalie Arena. The game can once again be viewed live on Sportsnet and CBC, where the Habs will look to slow down Tampa Bay’s offence and find a way to put some pucks past Vasilevskiy and into the Lightning cage.