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Mishkin's Extra Shift: Bolts show positives in 5-on-5 play

by Dave Mishkin / Tampa Bay Lightning

While the Lightning were pleased to get the overtime win on Thursday against Florida, they wanted to generate more shots (and scoring chances) in five-on-five play. The good news is that they did so in this game. The Lightning finished with 40 shots, 32 of which came during five-on-five action.

However, the Bolts also were not as crisp defensively as they were on Thursday. Part of their defensive struggles had to do with Ottawa’s speed. At different points in this game, the Sens looked dangerous off the rush – and in the Tampa Bay d-zone, when the Sens were able to contest Lightning clearing attempts, they were effective at holding in pucks and enjoyed some sustained pressure. By my estimation, Ben Bishop had to make more difficult saves against Ottawa in the first period alone than he did during the entire game on Thursday. Fortunately for the Lightning, Bishop was on his game – and turned aside numerous Ottawa scoring chances. He had no chance on either shot that beat him – a two-on-one finish for Erik Karlsson and an in-alone chance for Mark Stone.

But despite their occasional struggles defensively, the Lightning had plenty of offensive zone time pressuring the Senators. Ottawa, too, had issues with the Lightning’s speed and tenacious forecheck. That was especially evident throughout most of the second period, when the Lightning fired 18 shots on Robin Lehner. But Lehner was terrific with his rebound control, though, so the Bolts didn’t have many second-chance opportunities. This wasn’t due to the Lightning not getting traffic on the Ottawa goalie – they were committed in their net-front positioning. Rather, like Bishop, Lehner was on his game; he repeatedly found hard-to-find pucks through screens and ate up any potential rebounds.

Because of the stellar goaltending at both ends, a game that featured plenty of scoring chances ended in a 2-2 deadlock after 65 minutes. The Lightning deserve credit for battling back to tie the game after surrendering a 1-0 third period lead. It was nice to see Brett Connolly score his first NHL goal in nearly a year – and it was a crucial strike that salvaged a point for the Lightning.

It’s never fun to lose in the shootout, but the Bolts did manage to bank another point – that’s three gained in the first two games. They’ll look to shore up their defensive play when Montreal, another speedy team, comes to town on Monday. And if they can generate the same amount of o-zone pressure, with the same commitment to getting pucks and people to the net, I like their chances to score more than two goals.

Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Jassen Cullimore): Connolly’s tying goal with 7:26 left in the third, helping the Lightning earn one point.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Jassen Cullimore):

1.Robin Lehner – Senators. 38 saves.

2.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 32 saves.

3.Erik Karlsson – Senators. Goal.

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