The sour taste left by this overtime defeat shouldn't erase what was another solid defensive performance by the Lightning. One that helped them earn their third point so far on this crucial six-game road trip.
Since allowing 22 goals during their four-game losing streak earlier this month, the Bolts have yielded only eight goals in their next four contests - and one of those was an empty-netter. Not surprisingly, that stout defensive play has given the Lightning a chance to get points out of every one of those four games. The regulation loss to Columbus last Friday was a tough one, because the Bolts did do enough well to at least earn a point. They didn't, but they've gotten five out of six points in the other three. In other words, if the Lightning can keep producing these sound defensive performances, they'll keep getting points.
This particular solid defensive effort came against the first place team in the Pacific Division. The Lightning were playing the second half of a back-to-back against a rested opponent and, as was the case on Monday, had to play without All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman.
Still, the Lightning did an outstanding job in limiting Anaheim's scoring chances, especially in the first two periods. The Bolts held the Ducks to only two first period shots (though there was a dangerous open net miss by Ryan Getzlaf that didn't count in that shot total). The Lightning missed the net on a couple of golden opportunities themselves - Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula both fired their shots off target.
For much of the night, the Lightning did well to force pucks to the net and create scramble plays in front of Ducks goalie John Gibson. One of those led to Filppula's goal early in the second. Nikita Nesterov took a shot from the left circle that hit the skate of Cam Fowler, who was standing in front of Gibson. Filppula put the rebound into the net for the opening goal.
The Ducks tied it on the next shift, however. Just as the Lightning goal came after an icing infraction on Anaheim, the Ducks benefitted from an icing call against the Lightning. Getzlaf won the ensuing faceoff and eventually had a rebound chance from the side of the net. Ben Bishop seemed to have a problem with his mask after the Getzlaf shot and looked to the officials after Cedric Paquette got control of the puck. But Paquette whiffed somewhat on an outlet pass and Getzlaf wired the puck past Bishop, who was still engaged with the official.
That turnover was costly, but the Lightning didn't make many of them in the first two periods. As the second progressed, they had more of the puck possession, shots and scoring chances.
That dynamic changed in the third, as the Ducks made a push and the Lightning's game got a little sloppier. Some of that might have been due to the scheduling circumstances, but the Lightning got through the frame without allowing another goal. Bishop made some key saves and the Bolts killed off two third period penalties.
Even though the Ducks had the run of play for most of the third, the Lightning still had some good looks in the period. Gibson had to make key saves on Gabriel Dumont and Jonathan Drouin, as well as other stops during scramble plays around the net. The Lightning finished the third period strongly and actually ended up with the same number of third period shots as the Ducks (10).
Anaheim had been just 1-8 in overtime games and the Ducks began OT determined to win it. They attacked the net right from the start and Bishop had to make an early point-blank save on Getzlaf. Once the Lightning got possession, Tyler Johnson lost an edge in the offensive zone and took a hooking penalty.
The Ducks are the top faceoff team in the NHL and were dominant in this game in the faceoff circle. They won 39 and lost only 20. Many of those faceoff wins were clean. The draw that led to the winning goal, however, was a 50-50 one. But Rickard Rakell was first to the loose puck and made a great play. He pushed the puck into the slot, tracked it down, and one-timed a shot into the net.
As I wrote at the top, the overtime loss left a sour taste. But on this tough trip, the Lightning will take the point as they move on to San Jose. It was a well-earned point.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
The two successful third period penalty kills for the Lightning.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Ryan Getzlaf - Ducks. Goal.
- Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. Best player on the ice for the Lightning.
- John Gibson - Ducks. 27 saves.