Hope you didn’t miss the rematch between Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Thursday’s game at Amalie Arena featured five Bolts goals, three brawls and Ben Bishop’s first shutout of the season.
In case you didn’t catch the action, here’s all you need to know from a wildly satisfying win in Hockey Paradise.
1. The Bolts don’t let losing a game turn into a losing streak
Tampa Bay has gotten into a pretty good habit through the first 27 games of the 2014-15 season. When the Lightning lose a game – admittedly, not very often -- the team typically responds with one of its better performances.
And a win.
In games following a loss, the Lightning have compiled a 5-2-0 record.
On Thursday, the Bolts rebounded from a 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo with a thoroughly dominant 5-0 victory over the Sabres in which Tampa Bay held Buffalo without a shot for 22:32 during a stretch that included most of the second period.
Four-game win streaks? You bet. Six victories in a row? Sure, why not?
Losing more than two consecutive games? Hasn’t happened.
“Today, it showed we’re ready,” Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas said following the game.
More often than not, the Bolts have been ready following a loss.
2. Thursday’s game featured three fights and 110 combined penalty minutes. Somehow, Radko Gudas didn’t figure in either of those totals
Early in the third period, before the fists started flying, Buffalo’s Mike Weber grabbed Radko Gudas around the head behind the Sabres’ goal, ripping Gudas’ helmet off. Weber then delivered a two-handed shove to Gudas, just in case there was any misinterpretation as to his intentions.
Gudas, the Bolts penalty minutes leader, didn’t retaliate.
He simply skated away.
“I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen there, (if) the referee’s going to call that,” Gudas said. “I didn’t want to take any stupid penalty so I’m going to hold my ground. It was 4-0, there was no point for us to start anything.”
Gudas, the level-headed one?
Gudas didn’t know Weber’s antics were just a precursor to what was to come. The Buffalo defenseman enraged Bolts captain Steven Stamkos with a hit after the whistle minutes later and Stamkos slashed at Weber’s stick, touching off the first fight – a near line brawl -- of the game.
Two more fights would follow in a period that saw 104 total penalty minutes.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Gudas said. “From a team being down 4-0, you can expect something like this.”
Wonder if Gudas would have taken a different approach to Weber had he known the Sabres’ shenanigans would continue?
3. The second period may have been Tampa Bay’s most complete performance this season
No, the Lightning weren’t on an extended power play during the second period of Thursday’s 5-0 masterpiece.
It just seemed like it with the way the Bolts controlled the puck in the Buffalo zone throughout.
The Sabres didn’t record a shot on goal until there was only 3:41 remaining in the period. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, took over what had been a close game, putting 14 shots on net and scoring three times to pull away.
“It doesn’t happen that often and we had it rolling…It all came together at one time,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “We had unbelievable zone time.”
Stamkos started the onslaught with the 249th goal of his NHL career. Brenden Morrow redirected a feed from Jonathan Drouin past Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth for a 3-0 lead, and Jason Garrison capped the second-period scoring with a blue line screamer that ricocheted off the goal past and hit Enroth in the back before crossing the goal line.
Buffalo had been on fire prior to Thursday’s game but were completely stymied by the Bolts.
“We did it against a team that had won what, six of seven, points in seven straight games,” Cooper asked? “They were playing really well, and we just took one in the chin to them two nights earlier. So, now we come back on home ice and we want to come out of this home-and-home with three points and we did.”