Even the NHL schedule makers give us a gem every once in a while. The Tampa Bay Lightning season opener in Madison Square Garden was a doozy on paper. A rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Final. Two of the top teams in the conference. Arguably, the two top goalies in the game today. The 2022-23 NHL season is underway.
Ready, Set, Go
After the opening puck drop, the Lightning came out with a purpose. They were setting a tone and keeping the puck in the Rangers zone. Once the home team settled, they established zone time of their own. Back and forth the first period went. Both goalies stopped some decent scoring changes. Halfway through the period the Lightning had a 4-3 lead in shots on goal.
The tight defense played by both teams was beginning to resemble a playoff game. Minute by minute, this initial period remained scoreless. Both defenses were making it difficult to get a shot off by limiting zone time. With 3:47 left in the period, Erik Cernak was whistled for a holding penalty. The season’s first look at the penalty kill. Andrei Vasilevskiy in net for Tampa stood tall with his team short a man. The period ends with neither team lighting the lamp.
Ready, Set, Goals
The Lightning went on the power play in the first couple minutes of the second period. After a poor line change by Tampa, New York took full advantage and scored a short handed goal. Mika Zibanejad lifted a back hander over Vasilevskiy to open the scoring. The line of Nick Paul, Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn was working hard all night. Hagel doing a fantastic job at forechecking drew two penalties on one play. The Lightning made them pay with a patented Steven Stamkos one timer from his office to tie the game at one.
After the two goals, the game settled down a little. With a little less than eight minutes left in the period, Ross Colton was caught on an interference penalty. It’s often said that your goalie has to be your best penalty killer. Vasilevskiy did his part. The Rangers were all over the Lightning zone but Vasilevskiy held firm. Almost immediately after that huge kill, Stamkos was called on a slashing penalty. Back to the penalty kill for the Lightning. Again, the Rangers were buzzing so much in the Lightning zone that Tampa couldn’t make a line change. Still, they held the New York power play scoreless. Because of those two huge kills, the second period ended tied 1-1.
STAMMER TIME ⏰
Steven Stamkos gets the Lightning on the board! pic.twitter.com/15zyolzxMb
— ESPN (@espn) October 12, 2022
Lightning Season Opener
The final twenty minutes of regulation began like the scoreless first period. Three minutes into the period, former Lightning Barclay Goodrow was called for a tripping penalty. It made no difference. The Lightning had another lackluster power play, Vlad Namestnikov was whistled for a high sticking penalty. After a couple of close calls in the last couple of power plays, the Rangers break the tie. Zibanejad blistered a shot pass Vasilevskiy to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
New York stepped on the accelerator and got a couple more good scoring chances. Their momentum was stopped by another penalty. Another less than powerful power play by Tampa and the score remains 2-1 Rangers. New York continued to buzz after killing the penalty. Goodrow tipped in a Ryan Lindgren shot to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
With a little less than seven minutes left in the game, another penalty by the Rangers. Filip Chytil was called for holding but the Lightning couldn’t muster any kind of pressure. The game ended with a whimper From the Lightning as the teams played out the clock. NY earned the 3-1 victory.
- Mika Zibanejad – 2 goals, one power play and a short handed goal
- Igor Shesterkin – 24 saves including a couple of beauties keeping the Lightning off the scoreboard
- Steven Stamkos – Tampa’s lone goal scorer
The Lightning continue on the road and will face the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday at 7:00 pm.
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