When these teams met on February 8 at Amalie Arena, the Lightning jumped all over the Ducks and built a 3-0 first period lead. In this game, the Bolts dominated the second period, outshooting the Ducks, 20-5, and netting four goals.
The Lightning were able to dictate play much the same way they did in the first meeting. The Bolts used a solid neutral zone to disrupt Anaheim’s up-ice rushes. Their speed created problems for the Ducks. And especially in the second period, the Lightning did well to get pucks to the net, which yielded numerous scoring chances.
But the Ducks had more jump at the start. They buzzed in the Lightning zone for much of the first five minutes and forced some d-zone turnovers. One of those led to a rebound goal for Patrick Maroon. But on the next shift, the Lightning earned a power play chance. Even though they didn’t score on the opportunity, they generated momentum from it. They moved the puck effectively and had three dangerous power play shots. Back at five-on-five, their game settled down. For much of the rest of the period, the Lightning had the puck. (Though they dodged a bullet when a Maroon breakaway shot sailed over the net). With their puck possession edge, the Lightning produced several more good lucks on Anaheim goalie John Gibson, but didn’t score. They felt, however, that they had passed up some shots during the frame (they finished with only eight first period shots).
That changed in the second, as the Lightning came out firing the puck. They tied the score when Anton Stralman deflected Brian Boyle’s left point shot off the ice and up over Gibson’s left shoulder. Interestingly, neither Stralman or partner Mark Barberio were at the point when the goal was scored – the Bolts activated their “D” so that Stralman was positioned at the left circle for his deflection goal. On the next shift, the Lightning kept applying pressure and, after a lengthy offensive zone sequence, forced the Ducks into an icing. The tired Ducks turned the puck over on the ensuing faceoff and Jason Garrison’s left point shot led to a rebound. Palat jumped on the puck and passed it to an open Tyler Johnson for a tap-in goal.
The Ducks enjoyed one isolated scoring chance during the middle part of the period – Rene Bourque skated onto a loose puck and came in on a breakaway. But like Maroon in the first, he put his shot wide. Outside of that chance, though, the Lightning dominated the period. And in the final two minutes of the period, they added two more goals. Good forechecking from Tyler Johnson forced a turnover deep in the Anaheim end. The puck went to Stralman at the right point. His shot through traffic hit Gibson, who dropped onto his back. The puck settled next to his right leg. Palat, Johnson and Anaheim d-man Cam Fowler all converged on it as Gibson moved his arm toward the puck. Somehow it slid in. (The play confounded the off-ice officials, who credited the goal to three different players. At last count, Nikita Kucherov was given the tally – the officials felt he deflected the Stralman shot and Gibson knocked the puck in himself.)
Then, with just under 21 seconds left, Killorn set up Stamkos at the side of the net, who slammed the puck into the net. That was a dagger goal, extending the lead to 4-1 after two. The Lightning’s ability to strike again quickly after an initial goal was a big key to their success. The first two goals came within a span of 1:24. The second two goals were separated by 1:34.
Ten days ago in Tampa, the Ducks netted two late third period goals to cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-3. Again in this game, they tried to push back in the third. They had much more zone time than in the second, outshot the Lightning, 13-4, and forced Bishop to make some tough saves. But they never got any closer and the Bolts closed out the solid 4-1 win.
It’s never an easy task to play the three California teams on the road. The Bolts saw the Sharks, Kings and Ducks in a four-day span. Impressively, they won two of three. This one was especially impressive. For a good portion of this game, versus the first place club in the Pacific Division, they decisively controlled play.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Stralman’s goal, which tied the score at 1-1 and was the first of four tallies in the second period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Goal. Four shots.
2.Anton Stralman – Lightning. Goal and assist.
3.Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Two assists (or maybe one goal and one assist, if the third tally gets changed again!)