For the second time in two nights the New Jersey Devils host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Coming off that dominant Lightning win Tuesday, both teams are back at it again tonight. Playing against the same team has a postseason feel. Even after tonight, both teams play different teams Saturday night then these two meet again Sunday night in Tampa. There will be some grit from Jersey. There should be some swagger from the Lightning. So, what’ll we see? New Jersey holding their home ice advantage? Maybe, it’ll be deuces wild for the Lightning, winning these two games this week. Either way, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference head to head, expect a hard fought game.
For the Lightning, they need to replicate the game they played on Tuesday. For the Devils, they need to elevate what we saw on Tuesday. Andrei Vasilevskiy is back between the pipes for Tampa. For New Jersey, Akira Schmid is in net after Vitek Vanacek was lit for four goals in the last game. The Devils are definitely better than they showed and the Lightning are playing better than they have recently. Steven Stamkos is back in the lineup after missing the last game. Can the Lightning take two consecutive games form the Devils? Will it be deuces wild or will the Lightning roll craps?
Game 2 Start
Perhaps because of their recent inconsistency, it wasn’t a given that the Lightning would lock down another win tonight. What kind of resiliency and desire would we witness from the Bolts? They didn’t keep us guessing. Right from the start, the Lightning took it to the Devils. In the first minute, most of the play was in Jersey’s zone. At the 1:09 mark of the game, Mikhail Sergachev strolled down main street and blasted a shot towards the Devils net. New Jersey native Ross Colton fighting for net front position as Sergachev’s shot approached. As if he called the shot, Colton’s knee banked the puck in the net past Schmid. Just like that, as many fans were just settling in their seats, Lightning up 1-0.
The Boss puts us up early!! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/75fi45oZyl
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 16, 2023
New Jersey had moments in the first period where they were getting some good looks on Vasilevskiy. Tampa’s defense was working hard to minimize the Devil’s time in their zone. The period ended 1-0 Lightning and they won the shot battle 9-8.
Second Verse, Just like the First?
The Lightning were awarded the first power play opportunity of the game. Alex Killorn did a nifty pass to himself to get in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, that was the best part of this power play though Stamkos rang the post but didn’t score. Overall, it was an impressive penalty kill by the home team. The Lightning needed to be careful, the jump the Devils got after killing off this penalty was noticeable. It also was short-lived. It lived a whole 11 seconds. Then, former Lightning Ondrej Palat put his stick under the skate of Erik Cernak who took an awkward fall along the sideboards. Palat goes in the box for two minutes for tripping.
The Lightning went back on the power pay. This time they couldn’t even muster a shot at Schmid. Sure enough, the lift on the Jersey side of the ice was evident. Less than 90 seconds after killing the second penalty, the Devils scored the tying goal. Momentum was clearly on their side and they capitalized. Tomas Tatar received a pass in the slot from Nico Hischier right in front of Vasilevskiy. There was little chance for Vasilevskiy as Tatar snapped the puck past him. As the period headed to the halfway point, we are exactly where we started, all tied up.
With a little over four minutes left in the second period, the Lightning were whistled for two penalties. Erik Cernak was called for a trip after Stamkos was on a delayed penalty for slashing. Oh boy, now the Lightning have to kill a 5 on 3 for two whole minutes. The Lightning penalty kill came up big. Helped by Jersey hitting two goalposts and getting off only three shots.
Funny thing about momentum. It can be a fickle companion. Without a doubt, it sat on the New Jersey bench for most of the second period. Then the 5 on 3 kill by the Lightning happened. Poof! Just like Keyser Soze, the momentum in this game left the Devils bench and sat with the visitors. Working the puck in the zone, Cernak, fresh from the penalty box, took the puck behind the Devils net. Banking a pass to Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare, who backhanded a pass to a trailing Stamkos. Looking for the cookie jar, he shot it top shelf past Schmid for the go ahead goal. Lightning 2-1 and that’s how the period ended.
The two’s are jumping up all over the place. The two penalties called on the Lightning, the two man advantage killed and as the penalties expired, about two minutes left in the period. Deuces were certainly wild for the Bolts.
STAMMERTIME, RIGHT ON TIME #TBLvsNJD
Steven Stamkos puts the Bolts back in front immediately after the 5v3 kill, as called by the hyped @DaveMishkin
— Lightning Radio (@BoltsRadio) March 17, 2023
Deuces Wild Part Deux
For the Lightning it’s simple. Don’t give the Devils any extended time in the Tampa zone. Stay out of the box and don’t sit on the one goal lead. Barely a minute went past in the period when the Lightning were called for a penalty. Pat Maroon was caught on a slash. The Devils power play did get off three shots with the extra man but had nothing to show for their chance. To their credit they didn’t quit. They pushed harder. About the halfway mark of the third period and the game’s momentum is toying with both teams. Deadline deal acquisition for Jersey, Timo Meier scored the Devil’s second goal tying the game again. Second of two games in two nights, two teams battling for the two points that come with a win.
With 5:52 remaining in the game, New Jersey committed a penalty and on the ensuing power play, the Lightning broke the tie. Stamkos sticking with the “deuce” theme tallied his second goal of the game to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 17, 2023
60 Minutes Wasn’t Enough
Now, as the final minutes of the third period were winding down, the desperation on the part of the Devils was noticeable. With 3:45 remaining, Nick Paul was called on a tripping penalty. Less than a minute into the power play, the Devils tied the game yet again. Meier scored his second goal of the game and off to overtime we went. The overtime session was as frenetic and frenzied a period as you’re going to see. Both teams had legit scoring chances. Both teams played good defense when needed. When the five minute extra period was over, the game was still tied at three.
Off to the shootout they went. It was really apropos as tough a game both teams played. In the shootout, Colton and Alex Killorn scored to give the Lightning the shootout win and the two points with the win.
- Steven Stamkos – After missing a game due to an injury, scored the game winning goal, his second of the game and 29th of the season.
- Ross Colton – Like a Boss, starts the game right by scoring a goal on his first shift of the night plus adds a shootout goal
- Mikhail Sergachev – Two assists
Friday night the Lightning Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Amalie Arena. Then, Saturday at 7:00 pm back at Amalie Arena facing the Montreal Canadiens.
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