The Tampa Bay Lightning played with a ton of intensity and emotion on the way to a convincing win over 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. There were big hits, scrums and a fight. this added to the Bolts determination to avenge their poor performance on opening night. After not holding a lead yet in the season, Tampa Bay broke through and played the shutdown defense they haven’t had a chance to showcase yet.
A First Full of Emotion
This first period was arguably one of the best periods of the season for the Lightning. They played with an intensity and emotion that we’ve haven’t seen out of this team thus far. Coming off an embarrassing home loss to Pittsburgh on opening night seemed to be enough to get the Lightning up for this one. Tampa Bay came out fast and physical. Their forecheck was tenacious and they won puck battles. To fuel their intensity Ryan McDonagh was boarded and received any extra minor for retaliating. Corey Perry made sure Sam Lafferty answered for the hit by dropping the mitts, while numerous scrums would follow. The Lightning spent long stretches of time in the Pittsburgh end. Although Pittsburgh did push the Lightning did a good job of limiting their chances. Despite not scoring a goal in the 1st period, the Bolts played as well as one could’ve hoped on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Tampa Bay started the second with the same intensity and emotion that they started the game with. Despite playing relatively well in Buffalo last night and getting tons of chances, they could only muster tying the game at one in the first. McDonagh said about last night “We liked our process last night but they just didn’t go in”. Finally however, the pressure and puck possession would result in goal. Mikhail Sergachev hit Alex Killorn with a lead fed who was able to one-touch it Brayden Point. Point was able to skate down the wing and roof a backhander to give the Lightning their very first lead of the season. It stopped an NHL record of over 340 minutes of not holding a lead to start a season. What made the second a little weird was how the Lightning scored their next two.
At around the 10-minute mark of the second, the Penguins started to push and spent extended shifts in the Tampa Bay end. It was Pittsburgh’s best stretch of the entire game, and yet, the Lighting scored two goals in 10 seconds. The first came after chipping the puck out to get a change, where Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would poke the puck up to Alex Barre-Boulet who was able to find a streaking Ondrej Palat. Palat in on a breakaway put one short-side on Tristan Jarry to give the Bolts a 2-goal lead. Then seconds later Steven Stamkos came down the wing and curled around the net. He was able to find McDonagh who one-timed it past Jarry. However, after the 2 goals, Pittsburgh went right back to playing in the Lightning zone. They even drew a penalty, which the Lightning would effective kill off. It would be all Lightning the rest of the way.
Having their first lead of the season, the Bolts were determined not to relinquish it. Despite Pittsburgh scoring a garbage-time goal to ruin the shutout, the Lightning played an awesome third period. They made it extremely difficult for the Penguins to come through the neutral zone. When they did get through Tampa Bay held the blue line. They also played extremely well in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy. This group finally got the chance to play with a lead and didn’t disappoint.
Star of the Game
There were a lot of players to chose from. However, Vasilevskiy was fantastic. He made 3 or 4 spectacular saves in the second that kept Pittsburgh from feeling good about themselves. In reality he should’ve earned a shutout. Had it not been for a poor clearing attempt by Alex Killorn, he would’ve.
The Lightning come home to play 2 games at home before heading up to Ontario on November 4th. The first matchup will be Thursday against the winless Coyotes. Then after 3 days off the Washington Capitals will come to town. The caps have won 3-of-4 since losing to the Bolts back on the 16th and Ovenchkin has been red hot.
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