In his postgame interview with reporters, Ben Bishop said that this was “one of our more complete games of the year.” He’s right. This was a workmanlike, clinical performance for the Lightning, who thoroughly dominated the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils had a game in Columbus the night before, so in this scheduling quirk, the Lightning were waiting in New Jersey while the Devils were playing and traveling. But the Devils had lost badly in Columbus, 6-1, so one would figure that they would look to come out with a solid, bounce-back effort against the Lightning. The Bolts, however, simply didn’t let that happen. They brought an extremely high work ethic and complete level into this game and, as a result, earned a huge puck possession advantage. Their forechecking was relentless and effective, so the Devils had trouble throughout the game in clearing pucks out of their own zone. The Lightning’s possession advantage allowed them to rack up lots of shots and scoring chances. New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider did his best to turn aside those Grade-A looks, but he couldn’t stop them all.
The first Lightning goal epitomized that relentless approach. The line of Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn won a handful of puck battles in the New Jersey end, which resulted in a long, sustained offensive zone shift. Eventually, Callahan at the left point threw the puck to the front of the net. It hit Stamkos’ stick and Stamkos put a shot on goal. Schneider made the initial save, but Killorn put in the rebound.
That goal was significant because it allowed the Lightning to play with the lead – and forced the Devils into catch-up mode. The Lightning dictated play even more decisively after Killorn’s goal. They added two more tallies in the second, a period in which they fired 18 shots on goal. Forechecking pressure led to a Tyler Johnson steal and an Ondrej Palat goal. Another hard-working shift for the Stamkos line culminated in Stamkos tipping in Anton Stralman’s right point shot. Since getting put together as a line six games ago, Stamkos, Killorn and Callahan have combined to post 21 points.
In recording his third shutout of the season, Bishop only faced 21 shots. So he didn’t have an especially busy night. But there were isolated shifts in which the Devils applied pressure. Bishop made an early first period save on Tuomo Ruutu during a two-on-one rush. He also denied Tyler Kennedy with a stacked pad save in the second, preserving what was a 1-0 Lightning lead at the time.
But those New Jersey looks were few and far between. This was a game in which the Lightning were, by a wide margin, the better team. So they earned what they got – a fifth consecutive win and, at night’s end, a seven-point lead over the Devils, the top team just below the Eastern Conference playoff cut line.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Killorn’s first period goal, which gave the Lightning a lead that they would not relinquish.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
Alex Killorn – Lightning. Goal.
Ben Bishop – Lightning. 21 saves for shutout win.
Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Goal. Five-game goal streak.