This was one of the Lightning's most complete, dominant performances of the season. If not for the goaltending of Anaheim netminder Jonathan Bernier, the Lightning would have won this game in regulation. By multiple goals. As it turned out, they needed a game-saving goal from Nikita Kucherov in the third round of the shootout before Brian Boyle delivered the shootout winner in round four. Shootout decisions are often coin-tosses and sometimes the team that carried play prior to the shootout doesn't earn two points. That wasn't the case on this night. The Lightning were the better team and their victory was richly deserved.
The stats bear out just how thoroughly the Lightning controlled this game. They outshot the Ducks, 37-16, holding a 30-7 shot advantage after the first period. Shot attempts were 82-39 in favor of Tampa Bay. The Lightning had most of the puck possession and scoring chances. Their compete level was consistently high throughout the game. They were physically engaged. They won the majority of faceoffs against the top faceoff team in the NHL. They limited turnovers and coverage issues, though a couple of isolated errors did result in Anaheim's two goals. Perhaps most significantly, the Lightning responded well after each of those goals against.
In the losses to Boston and Ottawa earlier in the week, the Lightning were unable to push back when faced with in-game adversity. But against the Ducks, the Lightning "didn't wilt", as Jon Cooper stated in his postgame press conference.
After Brandon Montour opened the scoring at 8:14 and the Lightning lost a lengthy offside challenge, the Bolts tied the game 1:34 later. That tally from Jonathan Drouin kept the Lightning from having to chase a deficit. Alex Killorn's second period power play goal gave the Bolts a 2-1 lead heading into the third, but the advantage could have been much larger. The Lightning hit three posts in the first two periods and Bernier made several stops on Grade-A Lightning chances.
But the lead was only 2-1 and Ryan Getzlaf erased that advantage with a goal at 4:02 of the third. That goal against could have been deflating for Tampa Bay, especially based on how thoroughly the Lightning had been controlling play. But the Bolts didn't allow the Getzlaf goal to slow their momentum. After that goal, the Ducks registered only two shots for the rest of the game, including overtime.
This outstanding performance snapped the Lightning's 0-2-1 skid and hopefully will be the start of a positive run.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Drouin's first period goal, tying the game at 1-1.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. Goal. Six shots. 15 shot attempts.
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Two assists. Shootout goal.
- Jonathan Bernier - Ducks. 35 saves.