After snatching an OT loss from the jaws of victory on Saturday against Toronto, the schedule doesn’t get easier for the Lightning. Tonight at Amalie Arena, the Carolina Hurricane come to town for an Eastern Conference showdown. Like the Lightning, the Hurricane are licking their wounds after getting spanked by the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Two teams both coming off a disappointing loss, looking to get back on the winning track. Another early season gut check for both teams. These two teams are definite playoff contenders and the two points for a win in this Eastern Conference game loom large. Which team will start a new winning streak tonight?
For Carolina, Pyotr Kochetokov is between the pipes and for the home team, it’ll be Jonas Johansson in net. Significant injuries for Carolina include Brett Pesce and Andrei Svechnikov. Sebastian Aho will be a game time decision. For the Lightning, out with injuries are Tyler Motte and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
There is no question that the team defense for the Lightning has been lacking. Is tonight the night that the players in front of Johansson will knuckle down? It won’t be easy as the Hurricanes attempt 72 shots a game. Of course, not all of those go through, so the challenge for the home team is to limit Carolina offensively as much as possible. Conversely, Carolina has given up the most goals in the league. Opposing teams have scored an average of 5 goals against the Hurricane. Whichever team defense holds the strongest should prevail in this clash.
The game started slowly. Took a few minutes before both teams registered a shot on goal. With just under nine minutes remaining, Carolina committed the game’s first penalty. Not sure if it was the brilliance of the Hurricane penalty kill or the ineptitude of the Lightning power play, but nothing happened with the extra man.
With a little over a minute remaining in the period, the Hurricane put the Lightning back on the power play. Perhaps, this time they can actually muster an attack. This time, they did. The passes were more crisp and when Victor Hedman snapped a shot towards the Hurricane net, Brayden Point was Johnny on the spot with a nice tip of the shot that fluttered past Kochetokov for the game’s first goal.
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At almost the five minute mark, the Lightning committed their first penalty. This gave the Hurricane their first power play chance. The Lightning penalty killers were stellar. They challenged every pass and shot and had several clears
After that successful penalty kill, the Lightning seemed to get energized. They began to extend more and more time in the offensive zone. Despite the low score (1-0), this game wasn’t really as much an example of defensive brilliance as much as it was offensive sluggishness. Passes that were a little off and all the skaters seemed to be plodding on the ice.
Towards the end of the period, the Lightning added to their one goal lead. Darren Raddysh took a shot/pass right to the tape of Alex Barre-Boulet’s stick. One of the sweetest tip-in goals we’ve seen so far this season. Just like that, the Lightning were up 2-0.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE! ALEX BARRE-BOULET GETS THE TIP-IN GOAL!
— Lightning Audio Network (@BoltsRadio) October 25, 2023
Can The Lightning Close
So, the question is can the Lightning play with a two goal lead in the final regulation period? They were unable to do so last Saturday against Toronto. Will they be able to close out this game against Carolina? The final period saw a couple of four on fours but through the first 12 minutes of the period, saw no goals.
With about eight minutes left in the game, the Hurricanes had another power play. Unfortunately for them, the penalty killing units for the Lightning were in close out mode. They were relentless in disrupting the Carolina attack. Conventional hockey wisdom tells us that if a penalty kill is going to be successful, your goalie has to be the best killer on the ice. Johansson was. He stepped up big tonight.
In the waning minutes, as the Hurricanes were shooting from all areas on the ice, the Lightning broke their collective will when Nick Paul scored the third goal of the game. Lightning now up 3-0 with less than three minutes to go. That’s how the game ended.
Three Stars of the Game
- Jonas Johansson – 2nd career shutout, saved all 32 shots he faced
- Brayden Point – 1 goal and 1 assist
- Alex Barre Boulet – 1 goal, now has two goals in last two games
The winless San Jose Sharks come to Amalie Arena Thursday to face the Lightning at 7:00 pm.
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