Erik Condra in the first period. Steven Stamkos in the second period. Ondrej Palat in the third period. What did each of those players have in common on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena? They scored goals very early in each period for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Bolts never looked back, taking down the Detroit Red Wings 6-2. The victory gave the Lightning the same amount of points as the Florida Panthers (89), but the Bolts hold the tiebreaker by virtue of having more regulation and overtime wins, thus putting them in first place in the Atlantic Division.
It did not take long for Tampa Bay to get things going, as Condra scored less than two minutes into the game and put Detroit on their heels early. In an attempt to not be pushed around, some shoving occurred at the Red Wing net after the whistle that resulted in minor penalties to Cedric Paquette and Kyle Quincey. Throughout the first period, the Wings had some good chances even hitting the goal post a couple of times, but they were unable to break Ben Bishop. Vlad Namestnikov added to the lead, making it 2-0 in favor of the Lightning. With the period about to come to an end, the Bolts began making poor choices, passing the puck in dangerous areas and losing it in the neutral zone. Although Luke Glendening was called for roughing late in the period, Tampa Bay was unable to take advantage. The period ended with the Bolts up 2-0.
Another period started with an early goal for the Lightning. Stamkos attempted to make a pass that deflected off of the skate of Jonathan Ericsson and into the net, putting the Bolts up 3-0 and signaling the end of the night for Jimmy Howard, as he was replaced with Petr Mrazek. Brendan Smith had seen enough for Detroit and tried to give his team a spark by picking a fight with JT Brown. Things were going well for the Bolts until Alex Killorn was called for roughing, leading to a Justin Abdelkader goal on the power play that made the score 3-1. Tampa Bay took their foot off the gas and stopped playing aggressively. Darren Helm then walked the puck in and got one past Ben Bishop, making it 3-2 in favor of Tampa Bay. The penalty parade then began for the Red Wings as Mike Green was called for tripping and Abdelkader was called for cross-checking 12 seconds later. With the lengthy 5-on-3 power play, Nikita Kucherov buried one past Mrazek to make it 4-2. The second period ended with Niklas Kronwall taking a penalty for slashing that carried over into the third period.
The third period started with the Lightning on the carry-over power play, but were unable to convert again. However, Tyler Johnson came in on the right side and took a shot on Mrazek, who could not control the rebound. Ondrej Palat was able to pounce on it and score an easy goal that increased the Bolts’ lead to 5-2. Gustav Nyqvist and Namestnikov were both called for slashing, but neither team was able to capitalize. Detroit felt the pressure throughout the third period, as Tampa Bay was all over them in the offensive zone throughout the final 20 minutes. Brian Boyle set up Condra for his second goal of the game, making it 6-2 in favor of the Lightning. With a four-goal lead the Bolts were on cruise control for the last three minutes of the period, ending in a Tampa Bay victory that put them back on top in the Atlantic Division.
The Lightning will return to action Friday night at Amalie Arena when they face the New York Islanders at 7:30 pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
3rd Star: Nikita Kucherov – Had a goal and an assist along with four shots on net.
2nd Star: Ondrej Palat – Good things happened with Palat on the ice. He had a goal, an assist, and was a +3 for the night.
1st Star: Erik Condra – Hard to deny Condra the first star, as he scored two goals. Condra also had five shots on net.
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