Voting for the first group of the Round of 16 in the Best of the Bolts matchup starts at noon on August 10 and ends at noon on August 12. Each matchup is listed below and you can vote as many times as you'd like for your favorite play in each matchup.
BUTT GOAL vs. GARRISON MAKES HISTORY ON OPENING NIGHT
MAY 22, 2016: THE BUTT GOAL
Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison sure looked like he’d scored his second game-winning goal of the 2016 playoffs when he snapped a wrist shot from the left dot past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 53 seconds into overtime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Garrison had already supplied the game-winner in a pivotal Game 4 win at the New York Islanders in the second round.
Garrison continued to find overtime magic in Pittsburgh, his timely shot giving the Lightning a 4-3 victory in Game 5 vs the Penguins. Replay would show Garrison’s shot changed direction slightly when it hit Johnson’s backside.
“I thought (Garrison) was going for my head again, so I just turned around,” Johnson, credited with the winning tally, said after Game 5. Johnson undoubtedly was feeling apprehensive about getting hit in the face again after taking a puck to the mouth in warmups of Game 4, opening a cut that would require stitches and force him to wear a full cage in that game.
Johnson’s self-preservation reflex turned out to be the right move for the Lightning as it tipped the puck past Fleury and put the Lightning just one win away from a second-straight Eastern Conference championship and a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.
OCTOBER 8, 2015: GARRISON MAKES HISTORY ON OPENING NIGHT
Jason Garrison will forever be the answer to an NHL trivia question.
Who scored the first goal under the NHL’s new 3-on-3 overtime format?
The league adopted the OT change prior to the 2015-16 season in an effort to decrease the number of games settled in a shootout. Fans at Amalie Arena got the first look at the open-ice, end-to-end madness on Opening Night when the Lightning and the Flyers played to a 2-2 draw through 60 minutes.
In just over two minutes of overtime play, the two teams combined for eight shots.
Garrison ended it at 2:17, latching onto Alex Killorn’s push-ahead pass for a breakaway, which the defenseman finished with a flourish: forehand, backhand, far post shot on Philly’s Steve Mason. Setting up the break was Valtteri Filppula, who, without a stick, outmuscled Flyers D-man Evgeny Medvedev for a puck along the boards and pushed it backward with his skate to an open Killorn.
The play capped a celebratory night for the Lightning. The team unveiled its 2014-15 Eastern Conference championship banner before puck drop. Expectations for 2015-16 were at an all-time high, some hockey experts predicting the Bolts would return to the Stanley Cup Final and this time win it.
Garrison’s game-winner was a good start to reaching those heights.
The Bolts would go on to win their first three games in 2015-16 but their play soon dipped and they finished October just 5-5-2.
On October 8 anyway, the Lightning were trailblazers, entering uncharted NHL territory and coming away on the good side.
And Garrison will always have a spot in the league record book.
BATTER UP vs. EXTRA ATTACKER SINKS ISLANDERSMarch 28, 2016: BATTER UP
If Ondrej Palat ever gets bored with hockey, he could probably give baseball a try.
Palat showed outstanding hand-eye coordination to knock a puck out of the air with his stick and put it past Toronto goalie Garret Sparks in a late-season 3-0 victory for the Bolts over the Maple Leafs.
Palat’s swinging connection was the end result of a puck sent toward net by Steven Stamkos. Sparks blockered Stamkos’ shot away but up in the air and into the path of Palat, who swung his hockey stick like a baseball bat, making contact around where the shaft joins the blade.
Score that shot a home run for Palat.
MAY 3, 2016: EXTRA ATTACKER SINKS ISLANDERS
The New York Islanders held a lead three separate times against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Barclays Center in Game 3 of their second round playoff series.
The Lightning had a response each time.
None, however, was as dramatic as Nikita Kucherov’s late-game equalizer with the Lightning net empty.
Tampa Bay was down to its last 50 seconds, the Isles clinging to a 4-3 lead as the Lightning brought on an extra attacker. The puck swung around the point to Jonathan Drouin, who maneuvered into the left circle while Kucherov skated into the slot. Drouin hit him with a pass, and Kucherov beat Thomas Greiss to the goalie’s stick side to tie the game 4-4 with 38.4 seconds to go.
The Lightning would need just 2:48 to win Game 3 in overtime.
The game-winner would have never happened though if not for Kucherov coming to the rescue.
And who knows how the series would have played out had the Islanders held on for the victory in Game 3.