For the second time in ten days the Lightning took on the San Jose Sharks. In their final game before the All-Star break, the Bolts would once again go to overtime. This time however, the result would be more favorable for Tampa Bay. Despite controlling segments of the game and taking a 2-1 lead into the third, the Sharks would tie the game. Then for the 8th time in his career, Victor Hedman would send the Lightning home victorious. The victory was magnified by the fact that the Florida Panthers lost in regulation to the New York Rangers, pulling the Bolts within three points of first place.
What a Difference a Week Makes
Just over a week ago, the Lightning laid a beating on San Jose. They scored 7 goals on 31 shots including four on the first period. However, it was clear that this one would be different. Despite losing two in a row heading into Tuesday’s game, San Jose had taken a two of the top teams in the league right down to the wire. They held numerous leads against the Panthers before eventually falling 5-4 in Overtime . Then on Sunday they fell to Carolina 2-1. Determined to put on a better showing, they were able to limit the grade-A opportunities the Lightning had in the first. Although Tampa Bay would outshoot the Sharks, it was overall a relatively even period.
The second period was much more wide-open than the first period. There were solid sequences of both teams going up and down the ice. As one would expect, this favored the Lightning. Just 1:32 in the Lightning would get on the board. After a turnover in the neutral zone and a questionable line change, Brayden Point would streak down the wing drawing two defenders. He found Anthony Cirelli with inside position in front who had a tap in to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. However, the lead would not last long. Just over three minutes later Rudlofs Balcers would deflect a Marc-Edouard Vlasic She to tie the game at one.
Despite the Lightning getting numerous chances, the game would remain tied until the late stages of the period. This is when the Sharks got into some penalty trouble. Towards the Tail end of a Balcers Delay of game penalty, Logan Couture would take a hook giving the Lightning a short 5-on-3. Although they did not score on the two-man advantage it would set the stage for the go-ahead goal. Alex Killorn would glove a puck out of the air and then wack one past the blocker of James Reimer. It would send the Lighting to the locker rom with a 2-1 lead and an advantageous position heading into the third.
Oh So Close
The Lightning’s advantageous position in the third would not last long. Just 31 seconds into the third Steven Stamkos would get called for tripping. Although their penalty kill was a perfect 2-for-2 at this point, another deflection would spoil the unit’s perfect night. Brent Burns was able to find a cross-ice seam and sent the puck off of Couture and passed Andrei Vasilevskiy. Although the game would go into overtime, the Lightning had numerous opportunities to take the lead. However, Reimer kept the Sharks in the game. He made a big saves on Mathieu Joseph and Ondrej Palat, then two saves on Anthony Cirelli while on his stomach. Then later on Hedman would come within inches, sending one of the crossbar. The Bolts in reality had the run of play in the third but were just unable to push one across.
Swede Victory in Overtime
For the second game in a row and 15th time this season. the Lightning would head to overtime. That is tied for the second most in the league. As we have seen throughout the year, the Bolts owned overtime. They had most of possession and nearly all of the chances. Then with just under three minutes left to go in the extra period, Victor Hedman would secure the victory by sending one of the post and in. Hedman is now tied for fifth in NHL history for overtime goals by a defensemen, and trails only Stamkos and Marty St. Louis for the franchise lead.
The road ahead for the team as a whole is an uneventful one. Besides Hedman, Stamkos, and Vasilevskiy, the rest of the team will have the next eight days off for the All-Star break. Their next game is February 10th at Colorado, which is just one of five games in the month of February. This is largely in part due to the low number of games the Lightning have had rescheduled due to Covid as the rest of the league is due to make up those games during what was once the Olympic break.
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