The West met the East as tonight the Tampa Bay Lightning (13-10-1) brawled with the St. Louis Blues (13-7-3) at the Scottrade Center. Tampa Bay, looking to end a three-game losing streak, turned to young stud Andrei Vasilevskiy (6-2-1, 1.89 GAA, .940SV%) for a strong effort in net to get the team back on track. The Blues came in on a hot streak, having won six of their last seven with a 10-1-2 record at home. The puck was dropped and here’s how it unfolded.
First Period: The Lightning would continue to show their struggles early as St. Louis drew first blood just one minute and 39 seconds into the game. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (10G, 13A) trapped the puck in the Lightning zone and managed to shove off a pressing Jason Garrison (1G, 2A) to chip it past Vasilevskiy. From there, the Lightning would be plagued by a penalty to Nikita Nesterov (2G, 2A), which they were able to kill off. Unfortunately for them, that would not be the case for their second call of the period as defenseman Braydon Coburn (0G, 4A) was sent to the sin bin minutes later and Tarasenko struck again at 9:37 to make it 2-0.
The Lightning would find a spark minutes later as a Jonathan Drouin’s (3G, 4A) slap shot took a lucrative bounce to Cedric Paquette (1G, 4A) who smacked it past Blues’ goalie Jake Allen (11W, 2.39GAA, .911SV%) to get the Lighting on the board. Down a goal, the Lighting showed signs of life and played their best hockey of the period. This would be short-lived as another costly penalty gave the Blues the opportunity they needed. Thirty-two seconds into the penalty, a Kevin Shattenkirk (4G, 11A) point shot deflected off the skate of Paquette and into Tampa Bay’s net, putting them up 3-1. The buzzer showed mercy as it signaled the end of the first and gave the Bolts some time to regroup.
Second Period: Down by two, the Lightning started the period similar to the first. They took a too many men on the ice penalty a little over a minute in the second and gave up their third power play goal of the game to the Blues’ Shattenkirk, his second of the night. This would be the end for Vasilevskiy, as coach Jon Cooper pulled him for St. Louis native Ben Bishop (7W, 3.04 GAA, .902SV%), hoping to spark his slumping club.
Bishop would stand tall on several occasions to keep the game manageable for the Lightning. However, the penalty bug still reared its ugly head for Tampa Bay, causing them to take another penalty that they had to kill off. The successful penalty kill seemed to ignite the Bolts as they had an extra jump to their step. This added intensity would pay off with a Tyler Johnson (7G, 7A) score at 14:25 to bring the game within two. The Bolts would tempt fate again with another penalty, their sixth of the game. The period would end with St. Louis carrying over 54 seconds on the man advantage.
Third Period: The Lightning would smother the rest of St. Louis’ power play and finally be given a man advantage of their own early in the third. It would only take six seconds for Nikita Kucherov (11G, 15A) to have this chance pay off as he sniped a shot between teammate Brian Boyle’s (4G, 1A) legs to beat Allen and bring the game within one for Tampa Bay. That would be until Tarasenko would net his third of the night off the post and Bishop at 8:11.
This, however, did not deter the Lightning. They kept applying whatever pressure they could manage and were able to answer back once again with some great passing by the Blues’ net that resulted in Paquette’s second of the night. The game was in reach once again. The Lightning pressed hard all the way until the final minute, but the Blues would be able to hold onto this one and win by a score of 5-4.
Three Stars of The Game:
- Vladamir Tarasenko, 3 goals, 1 assist
- Kevin Shattenkirk, 2 goals, 2 assists
- Cedric Paquette, 2 goals
Next up: Tampa Bay Lightning (13-11-1) vs. Washington Capitals (13-6-2) on Saturday night at 7:00pm in Tampa.
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