Sometimes all it takes is one blast from the point. In other situations, it comes down to one crucial save to get you two valuable points in the standings. On Wednesday night at Amalie Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning got both at just the right time, leading to a much-needed victory on home ice over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With 56.8 seconds left and the Lightning on a power play, Victor Hedman unleashed a blast from the center point that beat Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, giving the Bolts the lead for the first time on this night. As time winded down and Pittsburgh pressing for the tying goal, Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy robbed Kris Letang with a glove save as time expired. Following a lengthy review after the final buzzer sounded, the replay officials determined there was not enough video evidence to overturn the call on the ice and call it a good goal. But my goodness, it was very close:
Like we were saying: WHAT A FINISH. pic.twitter.com/wUROJCVfsH
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 24, 2019
As a result, the Lightning (5-3-1) earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Penguins (6-5-0) in what was a highly-entertaining, sometimes feisty contest in Tampa. In a game featuring a combined 87 shots on goal (48-39 for Tampa Bay, it all came down to a blast from the point and a last-gasp save as time expired.
This turned out to be a game where the role players showed up for the Lightning. Alex Killorn and Cedric Paquette each netted their first goal of the season, while Vasilevskiy ended the night with 37 saves. Tampa Bay dominated for stretches of this game, but there were also plenty of surges from the Penguins as well.
Killorn’s first of the season highlights a chippy and entertaining first period
Tampa Bay took some time to get going during the opening period, but after about 6 minutes, their game began rounding into form. Head coach Jon Cooper’s line blender seemed to work early on, as the newly-created trio of Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, and Nikita Kucherov led the way. They cashed in when Kucherov led a rush, setting up a trailing Killorn. Killorn fired a shot on net leading to a save, but Cirelli couldn’t put the rebound home. However, just a few seconds later, Kucherov took the puck and fired a shot of his own on net. Killorn redirected it past Jarry for his first of the season at 9:46 and a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead.
Throughout much of the opening 20 minutes, the Bolts held a marked edge in puck possession, shot attempts, shots, and scoring chances. They did a great job of forechecking, getting the puck deep, and creating opportunities, especially at 5-on-5. Despite this, the Penguins had their share of looks as well, but most of theirs came while either shorthanded or on the power play. Sam Lafferty generated the Pens’ best chances on a couple of breakaways, yet couldn’t finish thanks to Vasilevskiy.
Paquette’s return helps provide a spark
The first period also bore witness to some physical fireworks from the fourth line of Pat Maroon, Cedric Paquette, and Luke Witkowski. During one scrum, Erik Gudbranson dropped his gloves and punched Maroon in the face before Maroon could toss his gloves off. While the Lightning created a couple of looks on the ensuing power play, they failed to convert. The trio also threw their weight around throughout the period. It became quickly apparent that Paquette was fired up after missing the first eight games due to injury.
Pittsburgh tilts the ice back in their favor early in the second
Following a Tyler Johnson partial breakaway chance that Jarry stopped, the Penguins began reversing puck possession in their favor. Following a long shift in the Lightning’s zone, things paid off as Brandon Tanev held the puck, saw a lane, cut to the net, and roofed a perfect backhand top shelf to tie it 1-1 at 5:06.
However, in the second half of the period, the Lightning regained the territorial edge and began creating more opportunities. A Tampa Bay power play saw the Bolts turn things back in their favor in terms of puck possession. Jarry came up with a couple of outstanding saves, including a diving stick save on a deflected point blast from Mikhail Sergachev. The Cirelli line began causing problems for Pittsburgh again as well, with Cirelli setting up Killorn for an excellent opportunity.
A missed chance at one end ends up in the net at the other end
Yanni Gourde, who put together an energetic second period, had a golden opportunity off setup in front of the Pens’ net, but when he spun around and shot the puck, it hit the post and stayed out. Pittsburgh immediately shifted into overdrive the other way, and a nifty passing play ended up in the back of the Lightning’s net. Jake Guentzel converted an easy backdoor tap-in from a Sidney Crosby pass, and the Penguins took a 2-1 lead with 58.8 seconds left in the period. Despite trailing, Tampa Bay held a 37-23 lead in shots on goal after two periods, including 22 in the second period.
The fourth line delivers the tying goal
With the Maroon, Paquette, and Witkowski trio wreaking havoc, they eventually tied the game up at the 7:07 mark. Witkowski delivered a pass to a trailing Ryan McDonagh as he absorbed a huge hit from Jack Johnson. Paquette tipped McDonagh’s blast into the net and it was a 2-2 game. Paquette had delivered a big hit of his own earlier in the shift that kept the pressure up in the offensive zone.
At 5-on-5, the Lightning didn’t maintain quite the same edge as they had in the first two periods, but after some back-and-forth between the teams over the final half of the third period, Pittsburgh took a pair of late penalties. The first was on Zach Aston-Reese, who after seeing a teammate without a stick, threw his stick to him. If he had handed it to him, there wouldn’t have been a penalty. Unfortunately for the Lightning, they couldn’t cash in on the power play. However, they would get another chance moments later.
Hedman’s blast finally gives the Bolts the lead
With 2:05 left on the clock, Guentzel took a hooking penalty during a Lightning odd-man rush, giving the Bolts another power play opportunity. Tampa Bay didn’t do much with the first chance, and things weren’t looking too promising with this man-advantage, either. Thankfully for the Lightning, Hedman’s one-timer came to the rescue:
WITH 56.8 SECONDS REMAINING!
A 🚀 from Victor Hedman.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 24, 2019
Typically it’s Steven Stamkos or Kucherov with that monstrous blast off the one-timer on the power play. This time, it was Hedman who delivered the goods. Following that goal, Pittsburgh tossed everything they had at Vasilevskiy, but as we mentioned earlier, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner had one last trick up his sleeve and the Lightning came away with a victory.
The Bolts return to action when they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at 7 pm.
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Victor Hedman – Tallied the game-winning goal with just under a minute left in the third period.
2nd Star: Alex Killorn- Scored his first of the night and was a part of several scoring chances playing alongside Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov.
3rd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Finished with 37 saves, including a diving stop on Kris Letang as time expired to preserve the win.
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