TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jake Evans played his first game in almost a month, but it was clear the Montreal Canadiens penalty kill missed the presence of forward Joel Armia in their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Canadiens scratched Armia on Monday night after he missed practice on the eve of the series and flew on a private plane to Tampa hours before puck drop following NHL COVID-19 protocol. His team’s streak of consecutive penalties killed ended at 32 on Steven Stamkos’ power-play goal late in the third period.
“Joel’s obviously been sitting at home a few days without skating,” acting coach Luke Richardson said. “We just felt that mind frame flying down today, this afternoon, that it would be better to get him on the ice for a warmup, get the blood flowing. Jake has been cleared to play. And that was our decision on that.”
Evans played just under 12 minutes in his first game since June 2. He skated a few shorthanded shifts. The Lightning’s power play moved the puck around well even before scoring and cracked Montreal’s penalty kill that entered 43 of 46 this postseason.
Armia is a good candidate to be back for Game 2 Wednesday.
“Very unfortunate, but hopefully we’ll get him back in a couple days here,” Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson said of Armia. “He’s been a big piece of our team in these playoffs. Especially on our penalty kill, he’s done great. … Hopefully we have him back soon.”
It was Evans’ first game sine being injured in Game 1 of the second round against Winnipeg on a charging play that led to Mark Scheifele being suspended.
“Jake played well,” Richardson said. “We though he played very heads-up hockey. He contributed on the PK. I thought he fit in well with that line with (Corey) Perry and (Eric) Staal, and created some offensive cycling just like Joel would. So I thought it worked out OK.”
Lightning forward Alex Killorn blocked a shot by Jeff Petry in the second period and then skated just one shift in the third period before leaving the game. Coach Jon Cooper didn’t have an update on Killorn’s status afterward.
“Obviously he couldn’t go down the stretch there,” Cooper said. “Hopefully we’ll see tomorrow.”
Killorn went into the final as Tampa Bay’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs with 17 points in 18 games.
HALL OF FAME TWEETS
Hockey players need to put together an illustrious career on the ice to get into the Hall of Fame. Fans just need to send a good tweet.
The NHL and Twitter on Monday are inviting fans to tweet about what it would mean for their team to win the Stanley Cup. The top 52 will be etched into a silver plate and go into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
“The thought was really finding a way to give fans recognition for their commitment the same way that we would with the players themselves,” NHL executive vice president and chief marketing officer Heidi Browning said.
The #StanleyTweets social media endeavor launches on the day of Game 1 of the final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Lightning are trying to win back to back, the Canadiens are looking for their first championship since 1993.
“Back in ’93, you’d go, ‘How is this going to work?’” Cup keeper Phil Pritchard from the Hockey Hall of Fame said. “Because of the way social media influences everything now and the way fans have become instrumental in teams’ social media sites and cheering on their favorite players and teams, it’s a natural now.”
The goal is to pick 52 tweets — in multiple languages — to correspond to the 52 names the winning team gets on the Cup each season. NHL social media director Sean Dennison said the hope is for tweets that evoke emotion and sentimentality with some humor mixed in.
“We want this to be as symbolic of the Cup as possible and since 52 names get put on the Cup, let’s recognize 52 fans,” he said. “The modern day fan experience really does take place on social media and especially on Twitter. It captures what people are saying, and I think that’s an important part of the story for our sport and for a Stanley Cup win.”
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno