The Tampa Bay Lightning were in rare territory entering Tuesday night’s game in Vancouver. They were hoping to bounce back from a loss for just the third time in December. What hasn’t been a rarity for the Bolts has been racking up points. They’d done so in nine straight games entering the contest. Tampa Bay had to weather quite the storm in this one, but got the job done.
The first period was riddled with penalties. Though the Lightning got the first power play of the game, it was short-lived. Nikita Kucherov tripped on an attempted dangle at the Vancouver blue line, and Yanni Gourde was called for slashing on the ensuing shorthanded rush. When Vancouver’s penalty expired, they had 53 seconds of 5-on-3, and just over half minute of a 5-on-4 advantage. The Lightning were clutch in killing it off to keep the game scoreless.
Even more clutch was Kucherov’s response to costing the Bolts a power play. When the dust had settled on the Canucks’ man-up attempt, Brayden Point won a face-off cleanly to Kucherov, who immediately wired it low-glove on Anders Nilsson.
Sunday night in Winnipeg, the Bolts made a bad habit of giving up goals in the final minutes of periods. They gave up another ill-timed goal when Tyler Motte tied the game only 32 seconds after Kucherov’s tally.
Fourth Line Production
Just two minutes later, Danick Martel began what would become a very eventful night for him by getting his first point with the Lightning. He made a beautiful spin move before sliding a pass to Cedric Paquette, who buried it to make it 2-1 Tampa Bay.
Adam Erne continued a solid night for the fourth line, deflecting home a Paquette shot to extend the Lightning lead to 3-1 in the mid second period.
Things get rowdy, repeatedly
Gourde and Antoine Roussel got the fisticuffs started at around the twelve minute mark of the second, when Roussel laid a hit on Gourde at the curved glass and they dropped the gloves. The jawing between the two continued all the way into their respective penalty boxes.
Just minutes later, Martel came up from behind Troy Stecher, and appeared to make contact with his head. Much to the dismay of the Canucks, Martel was given just a two minute interference minor. When Martel got back on the ice, Jake Virtanen immediately went after him. While engaged with Virtanen, Martel took an uppercut from Erik Gudbranson. The original hit included, a sequence of nine penalties took place in a messy second period.
Riding it out
In a third period Tampa Bay entered leading 3-1, a hockey game broke out. Though Vancouver was the first to strike in the third, on a seeing-eye point shot from Christopher Tanev, this period was controlled by the Bolts. They outshot the Canucks 15-8.
After Tanev’s goal made it 3-2, the Lightning controlled the puck and sustained zone time. Aside from Alex Edler missing an open side of the net, the Bolts limited Vancouver’s scoring chances very effectively. Steven Stamkos added some insurance when he sliced through the neutral zone and ripped it from the right circle with less than five minutes to play. Ondrej Palat added the empty-netter for a 5-2 Tampa Bay win.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st star: Cedric Paquette – Paquette had a goal and an assist and was a large part of a great performance from Tampa Bay’s fourth line.
2nd star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Vasilevskiy had 38 saves, including a key breakaway stop on Jake Virtanen in the second.
3rd star: Adam Erne – Scored the game-winning goal
The Lightning will be back in action Thursday night against the Flames in Calgary at 9 PM.
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