The Tampa Bay Lightning played in their 2,000th NHL game tonight against the Ottawa Senators, their one-time expansion brethren who also hit the 2,000-game mark. Life is odd like that sometimes and this game was equally so. Both teams were also playing their second game in as many days, each with vastly different results. Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 and Ottawa took a 9-2 beating at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. After a bad loss, it should be no surprise Ottawa came out hungry against the Lightning.
Slow starts have become a concerning trend for the Lightning this season, a trend that continued Sunday night against the Senators. The Senators came out fast against the Lightning, determined to put their previous game in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible.
Tampa bay’s league-leading penalty kill unit was put to the test early. Ottawa was awarded the first power play when Mikhail Sergachev was called for interference. Ottawa capitalized on the man-advantage a mere thirty seconds later on a Bobby Ryan snap shot.
Later in the first, Tampa Bay got their first chance on the power play, but the Ottawa penalty kill unit drew a hooking penalty, ending that man-advantage. Making matters worse, Ottawa scored their second power play goal of the night after. Ottawa came out fast and hungry and the Lightning fell into a big hole early.
Crawling out of the hole.
A terrible start to the game seemed to awaken the Lightning players. Only thirty seconds after the start of the second period, Cedric Paquette batted in a puck to cut Ottawa’s lead in half. The fourth line of Adam Erne, Paquette, and Ryan Callahan was arguably the best line of either team in the second period. Tampa’s fourth line brought the pressure to Ottawa. forcing turnovers and spending extended period in the offensive zone.
The Lightning controlled most of the action in the second period. Both teams traded chances on the power play, but neither could capitalize. This was a much better period for the Lightning, but as the second period came to an end they still trailed by one.
A wild ride to the finish.
The Bolts picked up where they left off in the third by playing fast and putting the pressure on Ottawa. Tampa was able to tie it early in the third when Mathieu Joesph scored his first career NHL goal. After so many close chances and near misses, Joseph finally found the back of the net and was quickly surrounded by his teammates in celebration.
After tying the game, the Lightning continued to dominate the game and out-shoot Ottawa for the majority of the period. However, things got really strange towards the end of the game. With five minutes left in the third, Dan Girardi took a big hit which led to some pushing and shoving between players of both teams, resulting in a delayed penalty against the Lightning. While all of this was going, the Senators took the puck into the Lightning zone waiting for reinforcements. Reinforcements arrived in the form of Cody Ceci who promptly found the net, concluding one of the oddest sequences so far this year.
Down by one, Tampa Bay fought hard for the remaining five minutes. Craig Anderson kept Ottawa in the game with some incredible saves. The Lightning finally caught a break when Sergachev drew a slashing penalty with only two minutes left in the final period.
McDonagh saves the day.
On the ensuing power play, the Lightning elected to pull Louis Domingue for an extra attacker, creating a 6-on-4 advantage. For the next minute-and-a-half, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and J.T. Miller all took great shots that where thwarted by Anderson. With time expiring, Kucherov took a shot from the high slot, but the rebound landed right in front of Mark Borowiecki, who attempted to skate the puck out of his own zone. What was surely going to be the game-sealing empty net goal turned into the play of the game for the Lightning
Coming from behind Borowiecki, Ryan McDonagh lifted his stick and stole the puck from right underneath him. McDonagh sent it up the right wing to Tyler Johsnon. Johnson fed it to Brayden Point, who immediately found the back of the net, tying it up 3-3 with 26 seconds left.
Victory in overtime.
After successfully forcing overtime, it didn’t take the Lightning long to pick up the victory. Point won the opening face off, and the Bolts took control, with Point and Yanni Gourde skated into the Ottawa zone with the puck. As Point brought it towards the crease, Anderson dove towards him while attempted to knock it away, forcing a collision with Point and exposing the net. Gourde found the puck and put it in the wide open net only fourteen seconds into overtime. The Bolts won it 4-3 and come way with four out of four points on this short road trip.
1st Star: Brayden Point – Game-tying goal late in the third period, assisted on the game-winner.
2nd Star: Matheiu Joseph – First career NHL goal, three hits.
3rd Star: Yanni Gourde – Game-winning goal in overtime.
The Tampa Bay Lightning return home to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Puck drops at 7:30 pm on NBCSN.
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