Shot blocking was the name of the game as Vegas and their defense took care of business to defeat the Lightning in an entertaining shootout. Lightning would have to wait a while to answer Robin Lehner but found a way to force overtime. Goaltending nor defense were the issue for the Lightning, but Vegas and their stellar shot blocking looked to keep the Bolts offense in check.
Vegas controls early
To start off, four face-offs occurred in the opening minute of the game. From there both teams brought out the physical game as if it were the playoffs. Vegas then wasted no time to open up the scoring. Brett Howden took a loose puck and fired it past Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. After the goal the flow of the game calmed for a bit before the 4th line of Vegas began generating scoring chances.
Vasy keeps Bolts afloat
Afterwards, the defense of the Golden Knights began shot blocking left and right preventing Tampa from answering the goal. Anytime the Lightning tried to gained momentum Vegas was quick to shut them down. However, Vasy remained solid in net stopping anything the Vegas offense threw at him. If not for Vasilevskiy this game could have been ugly quick. Towards the end of the period is when the Bolts offense looked alive despite Vegas’ defense and Lehner shutting them out the entire period.
Unlike the first period Tampa began generating more chances on offense. While the Bolts defense was not playing well, Vasy bailed them out numerous times to keep them in the game. Lehner remained like a brick wall while Vegas added to their lead. A shot from William Carrier went off Fredrick Cleasson and past Vasy to give Vegas a 2-0 lead. It was an unfortunate play for the Lightning who were still trying to find answers on offense.
A penalty is finally called
Vegas continued on with the shot blocking as they have done that well all season when it comes to that. With just under a minute to play the first penalty of the game was called. Prior to the call the officiating let many calls slide which made the game flow nicely. Pat Maroon was booked for cross-checking giving the Golden Knights the first chance on the power play. The period would end with no further goals and the Knights having leftover power play time to work with in the third period.
Bolts figure out Lehner
Bolts had to start off the period on the penalty kill and did a solid job preventing Vegas from increasing their lead. Majority of the period played out similarly to the previous two. Tampa desperately trying to figure out Lehner, and Vegas continued with the shot blocking and tight defense. Despite having three power play opportunities in the period the Lightning could not score on any of their power plays. Just as the third power play for the Lightning ended, the offense finally breaks through.
Corey Perry sends a cross-ice pass Ross Colton’s way who then fires the puck past Lehner to get the Bolts on the board and cut the Knights lead 2-1. With just under three minutes to go in regulation Tampa pulled Vasy from the net to get an extra attacker on the ice in hopes to tie the game up. Perry came to the rescue as he got the puck behind Lehner which fortunately was put in by one of the Vegas defenders to tie the game 2-2. Somehow someway Tampa found a way to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Wild overtime and a lengthy shootout
In overtime both teams exchanged scoring chances. Both goalies did not let their guard down with some close calls occurring on both ends of the ice. Vegas and Tampa ended overtime with each team having three shots on net. A shootout was needed to declare a victor in which the goaltenders reminded us why neither team was able to run away with the game. Seven rounds would be needed before a victor was declared. Mark Stone ended the shootout with a goal in the 7th round and Vegas went on to win the game 3-2. The comeback fell short but were lucky to walk away with a point in the loss. A combination of brilliant play from Vegas’ 4th line and shot blocking abilities is what gave them the win at Amalie Arena.
Three stars of the game
1st Star: Ross Colton – 1 goal, 6 shots, and 3 blocks
2nd Star: Brett Howden – 1 goal, 1 assist
3rd Star: Robin Lehner – Saved 25 of 27 shots faced
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