It was a record-setting ninth consecutive win for the Lightning, but it wasn’t a smooth ride to victory. It required Tyler Johnson’s tying goal in the third period, which came after the Lightning had surrendered a 2-1 third period lead. There was a long segment in this game when the Carolina Hurricanes dictated play and applied consistent pressure. But the Lightning, too, had stretches when they carried the action.
In terms of momentum, here’s how the game broke down. From the start of the game through the first five minutes or so of the second period, the Lightning had the better of the play. Carolina’s most dangerous looks during those opening 25 minutes came during a late first period power play. But moments after killing the penalty, the Lightning netted the game’s first goal. Ondrej Palat made a terrific individual move down the right wing, cut around Carolina defenseman Ron Hainsey, and roofed a shot from the slot over the glove of Eddie Lack. Even though the Lightning only recorded five first period shots on goal, they generated some dangerous looks and enjoyed the majority of the puck possession. That carried over into the early part of the second period. The Lightning put seven early shots on net and had several Grade-A chances, but Lack turned them all aside. Also, Victor Hedman took a shot that clanged off the post.
Then, Carolina was able to shift the game’s momentum. Their forechecking intensity picked up and the Lightning struggled to execute clears. Aiding the Carolina surge was the fact that the Lightning were not as crisp in their passing. Part of the reason why the Lightning looked so sharp at the beginning of the game was that their passes were tape-to-tape. Certainly, the relentless Carolina pressure affected that aspect of the Lightning’s game. Eventually, the Hurricanes tied the game when Victor Rask finished a shot off a three-on-two rush. Before the period ended, though, Palat zipped a shot from the right circle off a screened Lack and into the net. So the second was a tale of two periods – the Lightning dominated the early part and the Hurricanes carried play for the rest of the frame. At the end of it, thanks to Palat’s tally, the Lightning still led by a goal.
The Hurricanes tied the game during an early third period power play. It was a fluky goal. Elias Lindholm’s shot deflected off Jordan Staal’s skate, hit Anton Stralman in the face and caromed into the Lightning net. Shortly thereafter, the Lightning received a four-minute power play with a chance to retake the lead. But they only managed two shots during the double-minor and on the shift after the penalty ended, Jeff Skinner scored on a rebound to give Carolina a 3-2 lead.
Within a minute of Skinner’s goal, the Lightning took another penalty. But this one they killed off and then, just under a minute later, Johnson tied the game. Nikita Kucherov zoomed into the offensive zone and snapped a shot from the right circle off Lack’s mask. Kucherov pursued the puck behind the net and centered to Johnson, who put his shot into the top of the net with 6:18 remaining.
Sparked by the strong penalty kill and Johnson’s goal, the Lightning thoroughly dominated the rest of regulation. They had the final six shots of the third period and had numerous chances to retake the lead.
Overtime was one of the most exciting sessions the Lightning have had so far this year. Early on, both teams went into attack mode, meaning that there were a number of odd-man rushes and scoring chances. With just under a minute to go, Valtteri Filppula won a defensive zone faceoff and Alex Killorn grabbed the puck in the corner. He accelerated up ice, moved around Joakim Nordstrom and skated in front of Lack. As Lack went down, Killorn took the puck wide and lifted it into the net.
That tally gave the Lightning their franchise record-setting ninth consecutive win. It wasn’t a perfect performance, as the Lightning endured some bumpy moments during much of the second and early part of the third. But they also enjoyed some dominant moments in the game themselves – and received a critical late goal from Johnson that helped them rally after they had lost the lead.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Johnson’s third period goal, which tied the game at three.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Two goals.
2.Alex Killorn – Lightning. GWG.
3.Jeff Skinner – Hurricanes. Goal and assist.