The Tampa Bay Lightning hoped to make history by extending their current streak to their eleventh straight win on Monday. Standing in their way? The Colorado Avalanche, who are a lethal offensive team. They lead the league in goals this season, averaging 3.56 per-game.
Steven Stamkos would love to make history on a milestone night: his 800th career National Hockey League game, all of them in a Lightning uniform. Blake Coleman, recently acquired from the New Jersey Devils, has yet to play a game in a Bolts tarp, and Monday would not be that night, either. He’ll join the club Thursday in Vegas, but tonight was all about the eleventh for a focused Bolts group.
Both teams were slow off the starting blocks in this one. Neither generated many quality chances in an icing filled first few minutes. Then, it was just the Lightning showing signs of slow legs, as the Avs began to get their game going. They cycled effortlessly in the Lightning end, and eventually Yanni Gourde took a penalty.
The Bolts were glued to the ice while shorthanded, which is never a stellar idea around Nathan MacKinnon, who was a key cog in the man-advantage. Eventually, after nearly two minutes of pressure, Mikko Rantanen found Andre Burakovsky with a centering pass, and he made no mistake, roofing it past Curtis McElhinney.
After the goal, the Avalanche were controlling play and generating the majority of the shots on net. In fact, they had a 7-1 lead in that category at a point. The Bolts eventually tied up the shot on goal category to conclude the frame, tied 10-10.
Their best chance came when Stamkos won a clean faceoff over MacKinnon, and Nikita Kucherov immediately ripped it on net. The rebound lingered in the slot for Stamkos, but he couldn’t get it by the outstretched pad of Pavel Francouz. The teams went to the locker room with the Avalanche holding a 1-0 lead.
The Lightning played an excellent second period from the word go. Just 4:54 in, Alex Killorn made a spectacular play. He stopped up along the wall entering the zone, got the puck deep to Ondrej Palat, and then finished the give and go to tie the game.
Just 16 seconds later, Cameron Gaunce blasted one from the point. It looked as though Gourde may have gotten a piece of it, but the goal stood as a seeing-eye Gaunce tally. All of a sudden, the Bolts had a 2-1 lead.
Later, Brayden Point started a dangerous play with a nifty move to pull the puck to the slot. It was a mad scramble to find the loose biscuit, but remaining composed and finding the puck was Stamkos, to put it in as he fell to the ice and give the Bolts a 3-1 edge.
Sometimes, Nathan MacKinnon simply takes over a hockey game. His presence was felt in the first, but in the late-second he finally came through with a goal. Gabriel Landeskog dropped it from the high-slot to MacKinnon along the wall, and he absolutely blistered one past McElhinney to get the Avs within one.
Power play pressure
While Colorado’s power play in the mid-second failed to convert, they leaned on the Lightning until several Bolts defenders were absolutely gassed. Cale Makar let one go from the point, and Valeri Nichuskin deflected it home to tie the game.
Late in the game, the majority of the play was in Tampa Bay’s end of the ice, and McElhinney made several huge saves. He wasn’t done there.
In overtime, McElhinney shut down MacKinnon twice on two grade-A chances. There was a flurry in the Bolts’ end of the ice, but they were able to stave it off. Somehow, the puck ended up squirting loose to Kucherov, who beat MacKinnon down the ice and slid it five-hole on Francouz. A beautiful finish, and Tampa Bay had won their eleventh in a row, for the first time ever. Vegas will be their next contest, Thursday on the road.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 18, 2020
Our three stars of the game
- Alex Killorn: Killorn was a presence all game long, making several great plays including his goal in the second.
- Curtis McElhinney: McElhinney got better and better as the game progressed, and made several large stops late in the game and in overtime.
- Nathan MacKinnon: MacKinnon scored and was lethal on the power play, making Lightning fans nervous all game long.
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