Here they come. The hated Boston Bruins came into town to face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Amalie Arena. The Bolts are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Winners of four straight. In the other locker room, the Bruins could be heard snickering. They come in 9-1 in their last 10 games. Winners of six straight. In the last few years, NHL teams would come into Amalie and give the Lightning their very best. Tampa was the team other teams used as a measuring stick of themselves. Tonight the stick is in the Lightning hands as they face the best team so far this season. Will they measure up?
After a few seasons of being the hunted, the Lightning are now the hunters. Sure, they have 23 points through 18 games. That’s good enough for fourth in the Eastern Conference. The challenge tonight was the opponent. Boston has 32 points in their 18 games. Those 32 points are best in the league. This is the type of game that can help define a team.
The excitement was palpable in the building. The Tesla coils weren’t the only things emitting high energy. Lightning Coach Jon Cooper went with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. With Cole Koepke nursing a day to day injury, the 11-7 made sense. Through the opening minutes, the Lightning dominated play. Boston struggled to get the puck and didn’t register their first shot on goal until eight minutes of the first period had elapsed.
Conversely, the Lightning were spending so much time in the offensive zone, there were whispers of them pitching a tent next to Bruin goalie Linus Ullmark. After more buzzing around the Boston net, Nick Paul taking a nice feed from Steven Stamkos wristed the puck past Ullmark for the game’s first goal.
Heading into the final minutes of the period, Boston continued to struggle getting shots on goal. With a little over four minutes left, David Krejci tied the game at one with a slap shot. It was a shot that Andrei Vasilevskiy should of had. As a measuring stick kind of game, the first period ends where we started. Game is tied.
It had been, you have to say, coming for the Bolts #BOSvsTBL
Nick Paul snaps home the opening goal and the Lightning cash in on their terrific start to the game. As called by @DaveMishkin and @PhilEspo7
🎧: @1025TheBone or Lightning Radio 24/7 on TuneIn pic.twitter.com/rxVNIAKebn
— Lightning Radio (@BoltsRadio) November 22, 2022
Just A Second
Entering the middle period, it’s any team’s game for the taking. Though, the Lightning were the better team in the first period. Doubling the Bruins in shots, 14-7. They also had more hits and blocked more shots than Boston. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was called for a slash at 3:41 of the period. In the ensuing power play, Nick Foligno scored an unassisted goal to break the tie. Bruins up 2-1 and living up to the hype.
Speaking of Boston, a mere 30 seconds after the tie breaking goal, Charlie Coyle scored another goal for the visitors to make the score 3-1, Boston. As much as Tampa was dominating offensive zone time in the first, Boston was doing that in the second. The difference was the Bruins took advantage of the time in the Lightning zone with two goals. They were beginning to run away.
To add insult to injury, the Bruins added another goal with just under five minutes left in the period as Brad Marchand made it 4-1. Patrice Bergeron assisted on the Marchand goal that gave him 1000 points in the NHL. One thing is clear, if the Lightning want to measure up to this team, they have some work to do because their performance through two isn’t measuring up.
The Missing Measuring Stick
One more period for the Lightning to show what they are made of. Down three goals is a tough hill to climb. To add insult to injury, the Lightning committed a penalty to give the Bruins another power play opportunity. Sure enough, Boston scores another goal with the extra man. They now lead 5-1. This leaves the only question as: how much fight does this Lightning team have?
The newest Lightning, Rudy Balcers scored his first goal as a Lightning to bring the score to 5-2. While this goal wasn’t going to be a game changer, it showed there was some fight left in the home team. A little later in the third period while on a power play, Paul scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-3. The Lightning made it respectable but didn’t quite measure up.
They will have a chance to rebound next Tuesday in Boston.
Three Stars of The Game
- Nick Paul – 2 goals
- David Krejci- 1 goal and 1 assist
- Linus Ullmark – 32 saves
Three days off for the team as they don’t play until Friday at Amalie Arena against the St. Louis Blues with a late start time at 8:00 pm.
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