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Leaving Las Vegas Without a Win

The Tampa Bay Lightning end their four game road trip tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Winning two of the first three games on the road, the Lightning have earned five of the possible six points. Tonight, as the team is leaving Las Vegas,  they can come home with seven of the eight possible points. As the playoffs are getting closer, this successful road trip is the kind of confidence builder every NHL team wants. 

The only blemish during this current road trip was the 1-0 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes last Wednesday night. Sure, the Lightning came away with one point. Better than none. Though going scoreless after pummeling Arizona goalie Connor Ingram with 47 shots left a sour taste for the team. They will be looking to light the lamp for sure tonight in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights come into the game as the number one team in the Pacific Division. This also puts them as the second best in the Western Conference Ending this road trip successfully will be a challenge. Will the Lightning be leaving Las Vegas with a win?

Will the Goal Drought End?

After registering almost 50 shots on goal against Arizona without netting a goal, the Lightning were looking for a different outcome tonight. They got it and got it in spades. After about five minutes of feeling each other out in the first period, the barrage began. At the 6:01 mark of the period, Vlad Namestnikov opened the scoring for the Lightning. Corey Perry sauced a nice pass to Namestnikov which he tipped past Vegas goalie Adin Hill. 

On the ensuing center ice faceoff, the Golden Knights tied the game. Seven seconds after the Namestnikov goal, Lightning draft pick Brett Howden got the equalizer past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Six minutes into this game, we’ve seen twice as many goals we saw Wednesday in 65 minutes and a shootout. Buckle in because we may be in for a football-like score in this game.

Will the Goal Scoring End? 

A whole 28 seconds after Howden tied the game, the Lightning went on the power play. Then, 12 seconds in, Steven Stamkos from his office on the right dot blasted a shot past Hill to give the Lightning a 2 – 1 lead.

Less than two minutes after the Stamkos goal, former Lightning Jonathan Marchessault tied the game yet again. Marchessault snapped the puck past Vasilevskiy in the low slot. The Lightning goalie didn’t have a chance to stop that shot. 

Believe it or not, both teams actually went six whole minutes before another goal. Breaking the tie this time was Shea Theodore giving Vegas their first lead of the night, now up 3-2. To add insult to injury, Marchessault scored another albeit controversial goal. It appeared he tipped the puck with a high stick before putting it in the net. Despite the Tampa challenge, Vegas was up 4 – 2. Will the Lightning scrap for the two points that come with a win?

Will the Lightning Compete? 

Heading into the second period, the Lightning find themselves down two goals. To get back in this game, it will take a concentrated effort. One shift at a time. Well, it didn’t take the Lightning long to get that proximate goal. 

The 4th line scored the game’s first goal by Namestinkov assisted by Perry. Now, in crunch time trying to stay close in this game, they scored another. Perry found himself closing in on Hill and flicked a wrister. HIll got most but not enough of the puck and Perry’s goal makes it 4 – 3, Vegas.

Unlike the opening period, Perry’s goal was the only goal this period. At the very end of the period, Anthony Cirelli raced on a breakaway. As Cirelli made his move on Hill, a late charging Brayden McNabb pushed Cirelli in the back. This caused Cirelli to bang his head on the goal post. Would he return for the final period of this road trip?

Will the Lightning Be Leaving Las Vegas with a W or an L? 

 It is a one goal game. Can’t ask for anything more. Again, two of the better teams in the NHL that are playoff bound, playing one hell of a game. No doubt that the Lightning were fighting for the win. Moreover, Vasilevskiy, getting little help in front of him, stood on his head at times in this final period. Scraping for those two points. The Lightning were doing their level best to come out the victors. Winning 7 of the first 9 faceoffs. Though on this night, puck possession for either team didn’t lead to many scoring opportunities. Both teams played well in their defensive zones. For the entire game, there were only 50 shots. Wednesday, the Lightning alone had 47 shots. After missing his first shift in the third period, Cirelli did come back to play.

With less than two minutes left in the game, Vasilevskiy made an incredible kick save. That led the Lightning streaking towards the Vegas zone with a man advantage. Vasilevskiy then headed off the ice for the extra skater. They got a good scoring chance but it was not to be. This led to an empty net goal by Nicholas Roy to clinch the victory for Vegas. Pierre-Edouard Bellmare added a tip-in with about 10 seconds left in the game to make the final score 5-4. Finally, the Lightning come home after going 2-1-1 on the four game road trip.

Three Stars

  1.  Jonathan Marchessault – Two goals, seven shots on goal and two blocked shots
  2. Corey Perry – One goal and one assist and leading the stellar play of the 4th line
  3.  Vlad Namestnikov – One goal and one assist

What’s Next

The Lightning come home to play the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. Puck drops at 7:00 pm.

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