The low final score in this game is a bit misleading. Both teams generated enough scoring chances to score more than three total goals. In fact, the Lightning put four pucks in the Anaheim net, only to have one goal overturned on review because of a high stick and another disallowed (and upheld on an unsuccessful challenge from Jon Cooper) due to goalie interference. In the end, however, the Lightning made the one play they needed to take a 2-1 lead late in the second period and then, with help from Ben Bishop and three successful third period penalty kills, made it stand up.
The final statistics will show that the Ducks outshot the Lightning, 33-22, in the game and had a 64-48 advantage in shot attempts. But the Lightning controlled the first period. Other than a shaky early Tampa Bay penalty kill, on which Rickard Rakell hit the post, the Bolts controlled the opening 20 minutes. They held a 21-14 advantage in shot attempts and, while there weren’t a lot of scoring chances overall, they owned the majority of them. They had a few shots lead to rebound scramble plays in front of Ducks goalie John Gibson, but couldn’t finish any of them. Also, J.T. Brown had a breakaway, but Gibson stopped him. There were two areas in which the Lightning could have been sharper, though. First, in a continuing trend of shot attempts not going on net, the Lightning missed the net eight times and had five others blocked. Second, the Lightning squandered three power play chances, including a five-on-three lasting 43 seconds. They managed only two total shots during those three power plays. Still, as a whole, the opening frame was a good one for the Bolts, who did an excellent job of dictating play and limiting Anaheim’s time with the puck. But they weren’t rewarded for their strong play and the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
The second period began with a strong shift for Anaheim’s line of Shawn Horcoff, Andrew Cogliano and Carl Hagelin. Bishop robbed Horcoff with a right skate save after the puck ricocheted behind the net and came out to Horcoff on the opposite side. The Ducks gained some momentum from that strong opening shift and applied more pressure in the first couple of minutes of the second than they had in the entire first period. But the Lightning scored first. From the right point, Jason Garrison intentionally shot the puck wide of the Anaheim net and it caromed in front, creating a scramble. The Lightning couldn’t finish any of those first period scramble plays, but they did in this instance. Vladdy Namestnikov tapped the puck to Jonathan Drouin at the right circle. Drouin wristed a shot past a screened Gibson to make it 1-0 at 2:25.
Less than two minutes later, though, the Ducks tied it on a scramble play of their own. Rakell brought the puck behind the Lightning net and centered it. At the top of the crease, Ryan Getzlaf battled two Lightning defenders for the puck and touched it to Corey Perry at the side of the net. Perry finished to tie the score at 4:15.
Unlike the first, which was tightly played and didn’t feature lots of chances, the second was much more wide open. Both teams had dangerous looks off the rush and off sustained offensive zone shifts. After Perry’s goal, Drouin and Kucherov both had point-blank attempts stopped by Gibson. Moments after the Kucherov chance, Matt Carle wristed a puck toward the net and Kucherov deflected it past Gibson. It looked as though the Lightning had retaken the lead, but the goal was disallowed after a video review. The league determined Kucherov’s stick hit the puck above the crossbar.
Shortly after the high stick, the Ducks enjoyed their best stretch of the game to that point. The Lightning struggled with d-zone puck management and some sloppy passes fed an Anaheim momentum surge. But Bishop made a number of key saves to keep the game tied at one.
The Lightning eventually stemmed the Ducks’ momentum surge and pushed back. With just over five minutes left in the period, the Lightning went on another power play. Early on the advantage, the Lightning thought they had scored. Kucherov took a shot from the left point and Gibson made the save. The rebound came in front to Alex Killorn, who shot it over a sprawled Gibson. Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm had knocked over Gibson. The officials immediately waived off the goal, indicating that Ryan Callahan had caused Lindholm to knock over his goalie. Jon Cooper used his first challenge of the season, but the call was upheld. No matter. Later on the same power play, the Lightning scored a goal that would count. Again, Drouin made a key play. First, he disrupted a potential Anaheim clearing attempt, deflecting the puck to Valtteri Filppula. Then, after Filppula gave him the puck behind the Anaheim net, he quickly centered a pass to Jonathan Marchessault, who one-timed a shot past Gibson. After two goals had been disallowed, the Lightning finally had a 2-1 lead.
Both teams continued to generate chances in the closing minutes of the second. Steven Stamkos rang a shot off the crossbar and Killorn put a wrister off Gibson’s mask. The Ducks received a power play with 35 seconds left in the frame and almost scored on it. But the second period ended with the Lightning still up, 2-1.
The Lightning’s penalty kill struggled last weekend, yielding five goals in two games. It looked wobbly at points in this one, too. But it seemed to get stronger as the game progressed and the PK was a big reason why the Lightning were able to maintain their lead in the third. The Lightning killed off the final 1:25 of the power play Anaheim took into the third, then killed off two others in the frame.
It’s true that the Ducks had more shots, attempts and scoring chances than the Lightning in the third (which, hand-in-hand with those three Anaheim power play chances, helped account for the final disparity in shots and attempts). But the Bolts did a reasonably good job of clearing pucks out of trouble and, whenever possible, making the Ducks go 200 feet up the ice. And when there were breakdowns, Bishop was there to keep the puck out. He and the Lightning did receive one final break in the closing seconds after the Ducks had pulled Gibson for a sixth attacker. Cam Fowler took a shot from the right circle that deflected off Victor Hedman’s stick and fluttered up in the air. Bishop got a piece of the shot with his left shoulder. It did get past him, but Bishop’s shoulder changed the direction of the puck just enough. It hit off the post behind Bishop and came back out.
Desperate for wins and points, the Lightning have begun their California swing with an important victory. Bishop had a big hand in the outcome. So did Drouin, who provided a goal and an assist in his return from injury. And so did the special teams, which let down the Bolts in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders. But tonight, the power play got them the lead and then, the PK helped them hold it.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Marchessault’s game-winning power play goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 32 saves.
2.Jonathan Drouin – Lightning. Goal and assist.
3.Rickard Rakell – Ducks. Assist.