Brayden Point has been the overshadowed man this season on the Lightning roster, despite being a force night in and night out. Seven goals apiece for Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos have made it easy to forget about 21. He was determined to make himself impossible to miss in Saturday’s contest with the Florida Panthers, it seemed.
It was Stamkos with the lone goal in Tuesday’s home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Tampa Bay would be looking for more effective special teams, and more shots on goal in this one.
Big Cat keeps it scoreless early
The first period from the outside looked uneventful. Just 11 shots on goal. 6-5 in favour of the Panthers. However, both sides had some really quality looks and the pace was high. The first glorious chance was early. A test for Andrei Vasilevskiy right off the hop.
Anthony Duclair found himself in all alone after catching up to a pass. It was a clear-cut breakaway from inside the blue-line. Vasilevskiy shut the door and fired up the Amalie Arena crowd in the early moments of the game.
Power play finally cashes in
After an 0/4 night against Carolina on Tuesday, an early power play goal in this one was just what the doctor ordered. After a goal-mouth scramble led to a Bolts man-advantage, the second unit came through.
A slick slap-pass from Ross Colton found Pat Maroon in front, and he beat Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers closed out the period with a power play of their own, but it was still 1-0 Tampa Bay after 20 minutes.
Point drops the mitts, Bolts extend lead
After Radko Gudas took a run at Point early in the game, the Lightning star had had enough when he felt Patrik Hornqvist did the same in the second. Point of all people dropped the gloves himself and did battle with Hornqvist.
Later in the period, some outstanding positioning from Victor Hedman gave the Bolts a 2-0 lead. Bo Katchouk threw one towards the net, and Hedman, anticipating a rebound, corralled a loose puck off a Panther block and put it home to make it 2-0 Tampa.
It took the Panthers all of 36 seconds to tie this game up. Two deflections, one friendly fire off the stick of Ryan McDonagh on the first goal, off the stick of Jonathan Huberdeau, and it was all knotted at two goals apiece.
The second was a nice tip in front of the net by Eetu Luostarinen. The Bolts had some good possession and chances to recapture the lead afterwards. A Stamkos shot was deflected by Killorn off the iron, but it remained a tie game after two.
Both teams clearly wanted to clog up the ice and be better in the neutral zone in the third period, and it led to a relatively chance-less frame. Vasilevskiy did make a couple critical saves, and would need a few more, as the game headed to overtime.
Point alone? Goodnight
‘The Big Cat’ was called upon in a big way in the extra session, and came through in spades, absolutely sprawling across the net to deny a game-winning bid from the Cats. Then, the Bolts took matters into their own hands.
One of the last guys Florida wanted to leave all alone was Brayden Point in OT. He took a stretch feed in stride and undressed Bobrovsky with a slick dangle across the crease and ended the game. It was an electric OT for the Bolts between a fabulous save and deke, and they edged out their inner-division rivals and grabbed the two points on home ice. 3-2 was the final.
Our three stars of the game
- Brayden Point: Point was engaged physically and offensively, and picked up the gorgeous game-winner.
- Bo Katchouk: 1st career point on an assist, and a force on the forecheck all night long.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy: A few huge stops including a show-stopper in OT to guide the Lightning to victory.
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