Steven Stamkos. Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec. Those are the names most fans watching game one between Tampa Bay and Montreal had nabbed as the overtime hero when the clock expired in the third period with a score of 4-4.
But at 18:08 of overtime, it was Dale Weise who would become Wednesday night's hero, burying a chance in front of Lightning goaltender, Anders Lindback. Daniel Briere, who earned his first point of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the game-winner, won the puck in a battle behind the cage before pitching it to Weise who one-timed it to end the game.
"I knew I was wide open and I saw it coming to me and my eyes got real big," Weise recalled, as quoted by NHL.com. "I knew I wasn't going to miss from there. I got down on one leg, the old Brett Hull, and I just ripped it."
Weise, 25, joined his childhood favorite team in February after being traded by Vancouver in exchange for Raphael Diaz. The Winnipeg-born winger hadn't scored in six postseason contests as a member of the Canucks but had it all planned out as a Canadien. Actually, scoring that game-winning goal was something he'd done plenty of times. Just not in front of that many people.
"Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway," Weise said following the game. "It feels good to actually do it in real life."
Steven Stamkos scored two goals of his own for the Lightning, who own home-ice advantage in the Quarterfinal round after topping the Canadiens by one point in the regular season to seal second-place in the Atlantic Division.
Alex Killkorn and Nikita Kucherov, both making their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts, also scored for Tampa Bay. For the visiting Canadiens, Lars Eller, Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek each notched a goal a piece.
Gionta and Eller each finished the game with two points.
Game 2 will take place at the Tampa Bay Forum on Friday before the series slides over to Montreal on Sunday.