What a performance by the Lightning in this game. The Bolts were coming off a disappointing loss Friday in Pittsburgh, but rebounded with a complete outing against the Sens.
OK, the first shift wasn’t great. The Lightning turned the puck over in their own end and yielded a goal to Kyle Turris at :32. For most of the rest of the game, though, the Lightning dominated play. Their forecheck presented problems for the Sens and the Lightning spent a considerable amount of time in the offensive zone. This possession advantage not only kept the pressure on the Senators, but also prevented Ottawa from working the puck into the Lightning end. Also, the Lightning did a great job with their rush coverage. The Senators are a dangerous team off the rush, but outside of a couple of first period looks, the Sens did not generate much off the rush.
Still, the Lightning needed to find a way to get pucks past Robin Lehner, who was quite sharp in this game. Key plays were made on all four tallies. The first goal, scored by Victor Hedman early in the second period, came at the end of a shift in which the Bolts applied relentless pressure in the Ottawa end. The tired Sens couldn’t change when they cleared the zone because Hedman reversed the puck quickly back into the Ottawa end. After Lehner made two saves, Hedman buried the third chance.
Though the Senators regained the lead following a Mark Stone goal, the Lightning pushed back. During a late second period power play, Anton Stralman made a terrific play to knock down at attempted clear from Eric Gryba. He hurried the puck to Nikita Kucherov, who wired a pass across to Tyler Johnson at the left circle. The quick puck movement led to an open-netter for Johnson, who tied the game at 2-2. Then, 47 seconds later, Steven Stamkos put on a stickhandling clinic – he danced down the right wing, carried the puck behind the net, back around in front, skated through the slot and tucked home a forehander.
In the third period, the Bolts cashed in as another power play expired. Kucherov sold a shot from the left circle, freezing Lehner and the Ottawa defenders. Instead of shooting, though, he passed the puck to Johnson at the right circle, who netted his second goal. It was a mirror image of the first one.
The Sens aided the Lightning by taking numerous penalties – the Bolts had nine power play chances, including five in the third period alone. This helped short-circuit any comeback hope for the home side. Some of those infractions were undisciplined penalties, but others were caused by the Lightning’s speed and relentless pressure.
Despite trailing twice in the game, this was one the Bolts deserved. And the final score reflected it.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Stamkos’ second period goal, which came 47 seconds after Johnson tied the game.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Victor Hedman – Lightning. Goal and assist. Outstanding in all three zones.
2.Tyler Johnson – Lightning. Two goals.
3.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. Two assists.