Based on the lopsided final score, one might have expected a different final statistical line. But the Lightning only posted 21 shots on goal and 44 shot attempts. Those are not high totals. Remember that in their earlier losses to Boston and Ottawa at the start of the four-game homestand, the Lightning managed only 21 shots on goal in each of those games and didn't generate enough of an attack.
Hockey sometimes can be a funny game, however. Even though they didn't put a lot pucks on net (and the Kings are a team that allows the fewest shots on goal per game in the league), the Lightning were efficient in converting on the scoring chances they did generate. Furthermore, those scoring chances were extremely dangerous ones. Their ability to finish a high percentage of Grade-A looks was a big reason why they were able to win this game.
This is a good sign. As the Bolts improved their overall defensive play in the past several weeks, they struggled to convert on chances and, as a result, often failed to post more than one or two goals a game. Consequently, they sometimes ended up not getting rewarded for those solid defensive performances. So hopefully this five-goal outburst will be a start of sustained offensive output.
If converting on a high volume of scoring chances was one key to the Lightning's win, the goaltending of Ben Bishop was another. In the first half of the game, the Kings controlled play. They enjoyed most of the puck possession, shots and scoring chances. Bishop made 19 first period saves, though, and helped the Lightning get out of that frame with a 1-0 lead. In the early part of the second period, the Kings maintained their puck possession advantage, but Bishop was less busy. Los Angeles managed just three second period shots on goal and had only nine total shots on net after the first period.
Four of the five Lightning goals came off the rush, as the Lightning used their speed and/or accurate passing to produce dangerous looks. The first two came in the midst of that LA push during the first half of the game. Jonathan Drouin's unassisted first period highlight-reel goal came off a coast-to-coast rush in which he roofed a shot from the bottom of the left circle over the shoulder of Peter Budaj. On the second goal, two quick passes from Andrej Sustr and Vladdy Namestnikov helped Nikita Kucherov get loose on a breakaway and he zipped a low shot past Budaj's stick.
But it wasn't until the third goal that the complexion of the game truly shifted. On that Gabriel Dumont tally - his first NHL goal since April of 2013 - the Lightning again caught the Kings in transition. Victor Hedman wired a long cross-ice pass to J.T. Brown on the right wing. Brown skated into the Kings zone and centered for Dumont, who one-timed a shot past Budaj.
Following that goal, which came at 11:02 of the second, the Lightning tightened up their neutral zone play and cut off the Los Angeles attack for much of the rest of the game. The Bolts did an excellent job of managing the puck in all three zones and added two more tallies before the game ended.
The Lightning have now won back-to-back games for the first time since late December. They'll look to make it three in a row when they visit the top team in the Western Conference on Friday - the Minnesota Wild.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Bobby "The Chief" Taylor):
Dumont's second period goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Bobby "The Chief" Taylor):
- Ben Bishop - Lightning. 28-save shutout.
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Two goals.
- Vladislav Namestnikov - Lightning. Two assists.