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Moose Tracks Another Win for The Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a very un-Lightning like start this season. Tied for last in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens is foreign territory for this team. They head to Honda Center in Anaheim to face the Ducks in their third back to back games in their eighth game of the young season. Brian “Moose” Elliott will be between the pipes for Tampa, looking to get back on the winning track.

After Initial Puck Drop

The Lightning are coming off the loss in Los Angeles last night while the Ducks are riding a four game losing streak into tonight’s match up. The game started as expected. Both teams played as if neither team wanted to make the first costly mistake of the game. The shots on goal reflected that as through the first eight minutes, both combatants only mustered six shots in that time. Mikhail Sergachev was whistled for a cross check with just under 12 minutes left in the first, would this be a turning point?

The Ducks came into the game with a 10% power play effectiveness, so no point was going to turn. As the period progressed, the momentum was shifting from the Lightning playing in the Ducks zone to vice versa. As has been the custom recently, the Lightning struggled with getting the puck out of their zone. It happened again with just under five minutes remaining, Trevor Zegras snapped a one timer past Elliott for the game’s first goal. 

As the first period was coming near its end, Sergachev snapped a twisted wrister past Ducks goalie John Gibson to tie the game at one. Alright, safe to say that the momentum was at least beginning to balance out. About a minute later, Tampa took control of that fickle momentum. Nikita Kucherov slapped a one timer past Gibson to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

Middling Middle Period

The first few minutes of the middle frame were uneventful. A nice shoutout from Anaheim to Corey Perry. Then, Cole Koepke drew a penalty from former Lightning Kevin Shattenkirk. Tampa’s power play was every bit as uneventful as the period had been thus far. Then as is customary, the Ducks, having just killed the penalty, start gaining some zone time. More non-events. Couple of nice looks and maybe a good scoring chance but nothing past Elliott. Moose was holding firm.

One of the best scoring chances in a few games happened when Pat Maroon found himself on a little breakaway. Going forehand backhand, Maroon got the puck past Gibson but not past the post. Still 2-1 Lightning. One thing that was apparent as the game went on was both teams played less tentatively. There were some good scoring chances from both teams and better saves from both goalies.

With less than four minutes left in the period, another Lightning defensive giveaway in their zone led to another goal by Anaheim. Phil Myers coughed up the puck and Troy Terry snapped a shot past Elliott to tie the game. We got a brand new ball game now.

Moose Makes His Stand

Elliott wasn’t getting tested often in this game. Through the first two periods, Anaheim only had 14 shots on goal. Frankly, it seemed like more. Perhaps because there were several good scoring chances among those 14 shots. In any case, the final regulation period was where  either goalie could steal the game for their team. For Tampa, the question would be: Is Moose on track to make this happen for the Lightning? It would mean avoiding back to back losses on this West Coast road trip.

At 4:46 of the period, Terry was called on a high stick on Victor Hedman putting the Lightning on a power play. Less than a minute with the extra man, Steven Stamkos was called for a tripping penalty to give us a 4 on 4. After Terry got out of the penalty box, Anaheim had about a 50 second power play. During which, Moose made a couple of nifty if not, necessary saves. One thing seemed apparent, Tampa’s defense was playing more stout in this period than in the first two.

Lightning went on the power play with about six minutes left in regulation. Much maligned (among some Tampa fans) Brandon Hagel scored to break the tie. Now, all the Lightning have to do is withstand the inevitable Anaheim onslaught. Sure enough,, with two minutes left, Anaheim pulled Gibson for the extra man. Stamkos took a shot at the empty net but that shot was deflected just wide of the net. As time ran down, Hedman passed the puck to Nick Paul who backhanded the empty netter to give us the final 4-2 score. 

Three Stars 

Mikhail Sergachev – 1 Goal, 1 Assist

Brandon Hagel – Game Winning Goal and relentless forechecking

Brian Elliott – Saved 19 of 21 shots, secured win in back to back game after loss. 

What’s Next 

Next game is in San Jose against the Sharks on Saturday. Note early game time: 4:30 p.m.

 

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