The Lightning were able to win this game because they sharpened their play in the second period after being decisively outplayed in the first. The Lightning weren't executing well in the first period - and the Devils were. The Lightning's passing and puck management was subpar, so they didn't have much puck possession. The Devils, on the other hand, crisply moved the puck up ice throughout the opening 20 minutes and generated some excellent scoring chances. But thanks to Ben Bishop, the Lightning only trailed 1-0 after one.
The Lightning started the second period by applying more consistent pressure and tied the game when Brian Boyle finished a perfect cross-ice pass from Victor Hedman. But the Boyle goal, which came at 2:25 of the second, wasn't the moment when the Lightning took over the game. Instead, the Devils pushed back and spent most of the next five minutes in the Lightning defensive zone. Bishop made a terrific skate save on Travis Zajac to preserve the tie during that stretch.
Finally, about eight minutes into the second, the tide turned. It started with a Nikita Kucherov chance. Kucherov got loose in the offensive zone and put a backhander off the crossbar. The puck dropped right on the goal line and stayed out. But on the ensuing faceoff in the New Jersey end, the Devils fumbled the puck and Hedman's shot knuckle-balled past Cory Schneider to give the Lightning the lead.
From that moment until the early stages of the third, the Lightning dominated play. They set a season high with 21 second period shots, generated numerous chances and owned virtually all of the puck possession. This domination was possible because of better passing, puck management and team defense. When Brayden Point netted his first NHL goal at 5:01 of the third, the Lightning had a 3-1 lead.
Down by two, the Devils applied pressure throughout the rest of the third period and ended up with 18 third period shots. Several were excellent scoring chances, but Bishop was outstanding in denying them all. Kucherov finished the scoring when he converted a breakaway at 14:14.
The Lightning had a strong in-game response, turning their fortunes around after a poor start. Clearly, though, they'll need a better start when they visit the Panthers on Monday.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Ben Bishop - Lightning. 37 saves for win.
- Brayden Point - Lightning. First NHL goall
- Victor Hedman - Lightning. Goal and assist. 187th assist with Lightning, tying Dan Boyle for franchise lead by a defenseman.