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Happy Homecoming Propels Bolts

Photo: Alex Walworth, The Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are returning home after a road trip in which they played very well but did not always get the results they deserved. They won the first two games against tough opponents- the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars. Then, onto Arizona where they played one of their most dominant games of the season. Unfortunately, they came out with just a single point, as goaltender Connor Ingram had the game of his career in net. The road trip concluded with a hard-fought battle in Las Vegas where a highly controversial first period goal was the difference maker. Coach Jon Cooper expressed frustration after that one, stating that it was a game in which the Bolts should have come away with points. And alas, despite the impressive road play, the Lightning come in tonight having lost two straight. Their opponents, the Anaheim Ducks, sit dead last in the NHL with just 41 points. But teams with nothing to lose can be feisty down the stretch. They have no pressure and can relish the role of spoilers. After two frustrating losses, the Lightning need to make this a happy homecoming by returning to their winning ways.

Penalties Abound to Start Homecoming

The puck dropped to start this mini homestand and the Bolts immediately got some pressure going. And less than a minute in, they got rewarded with a power play, as former Bolt Kevin Shattenkirk went to the box for holding. The Lightning could not capitalize. Three seconds after their power play expired, the Bolts took a penalty of their own. Corey Perry was called for tripping, but the Bolts killed that one off. The teams were back at even strength. For about 37 seconds. Then, Ian Cole went to the box for holding. Once again, the Bolts killed it off. The two teams then managed to play a solid eight minutes with no calls. During the even-strength time, the Ducks had a flurry of amazing chances, but Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped them all.

With just over 4 minutes remaining in the period, the Lightning got their second power play of the game. They had some good looks but for the fourth time in the period, the penalty kill did its job. Pretty evenly matched period as shots on net were about equal and both teams went 0 for 2 on the power play.

Homecoming Breakout

The first period in this one was evenly matched. The second was anything but! The Lightning got another early power play but were stymied yet again. Rookie goaltender Lukas Dostal who came into this game with a 2-4-1 record this season and a goals against average of 3.99. But the Bolts could not get anything past him. You had to wonder if the players were having flashbacks to Connor Ingram and the Arizona game from last week. But maybe all they needed was some hometown energy.

At 7:15 of the second period, the scoring drought came to a crashing halt. A couple of Nick P.s combined for Tampa Bay’s first goal, as Nick Perbix passed the puck off to Nick Paul who rocketed it past Dostal to give the Bolts the lead.

About a minute and a half later, the Lightning would get their fourth power play of the game and this time, they came through as Ross Colton fired his 12th of the season past Dostal to make it 2-0. But the breakout was only halfway done! Just over a minute later, Anthony Cirelli scored a beauty as he backhanded it in to give the Bolts a 3-0 lead.

Scoring in that period was capped off by a rather unlikely candidate. Zach Bogosian drilled a shot from the point for his first of the season to make it 4-0.

As the period wound down, Trevor Zegras found himself alone in front of the net and got a nice shot off but Vasilevskiy was up to the task and made the save. It was the only shot on goal in the period for the Ducks. The Bolts outshot them 22-1 in what was possibly one of the most dominant periods of the season for the boys in blue.

Sealing the Homecoming Victory

The third period started the same as the first two- with an early Lightning power play. This time, they wasted little time capitalizing as Brayden point scored his 33rd of the season and 200th of his career. Point became the second fastest player in Lightning history to reach the 200-goal milestone. Only the captain, Steven Stamkos did it faster.

A little over a minute later, Corey Perry tipped in a seeing eye shot to give the Bolts a half-dozen goals on the night.

Just past the six-minute mark, Trevor Zegras skated in on a breakaway but Vasilevskiy stopped him again. Unfortunately, the Lightning could not clear the puck. Anaheim had a couple more chances before Ryan Strome found the back of the net at 6:28 to end Vasilevskiy’s quest for back to back home shutouts.

That ended the scoring as the Bolts finished up with a dominating 6-1 victory. Clearly, this homecoming was just what the doctor had ordered for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

3 Stars

1- Nick Perbix- 3 assists

2- Andrei Vasilevskiy- another stellar performance in net

3- Brayden Point- 200th career goal

Up Next

This mini homestand concludes with a game Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres at 7pm.

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