There were several pivotal moments in this game that swung the Lightning's way. The first of those came during a first period four-on-four. With the game still scoreless, Peter Budaj made a remarkable save on Anze Kopitar. Moments later, Nikita Kucherov took a stretch pass from Steven Stamkos and scored on a breakaway. Instead of potentially trailing, the Lightning had a 1-0 lead. After Alex Killorn added a second goal during the four-on-four, there was another important sequence. Right after the four-on-four ended, Victor Hedman tallied a third Lightning goal. The Kings used their coach's challenge, contesting that the play was offside. The new rule this year is that if an offside challenge fails, the team that lost the challenge is issued a penalty. The officials ruled that Hedman's goal was on-side, so not only did it count, the Lightning received a power play chance. And they tacked on a fourth goal during that man advantage.
Late in the second period, the Kings cut the Lightning lead to 4-1. They thought they had added another goal in the final minute of the frame. But the Lightning successfully challenged the goal, arguing that Budaj was unable to make the save due to interference. So the Lightning were able to maintain a three-goal lead after 40 minutes. That was significant because the Kings did score another goal in the third.
Those plays were a big part of how this game unfolded. But they didn't represent the whole story. Beginning with Kucherov's opening goal until the late stages of the second period, the Lightning completely dominated play. Similar to how they played on Wednesday against the Sharks. The four first period goals came in a 2:02 span, a franchise record for fastest four goals. The Lightning were skating fast, passing well and attacking relentlessly. If not for the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, the Lightning could have been up by eight or nine goals. He was at his best in the second period, when he made 19 saves and denied upwards of 10 Grade-A chances. Quick's work kept his team's deficit at four and allowed the Kings to stay within striking distance.
The Kings did in fact make a push. Quick's tremendous performance may have sparked them. So did Tyler Toffoli's second period goal. And the Lightning were playing the second half of a back-to-back. But when the Kings tried to mount a third period comeback, Budaj produced some timely saves. After Oscar Fantenberg's goal cut the Lightning lead to 4-2, the Bolts pushed back well with several strong shifts in the offensive zone. Eventually, Vladdy Namestnikov scored the fifth Lightning goal, effectively ending the LA comeback bid.
The Lightning will get a couple of days to recover from this back-to-back sweep before concluding the trip on Sunday in Anaheim.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
The Budaj save on Kopitar immediately followed by Kucherov's opening goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Goal and two assists.
- Victor Hedman - Lightning. Goal and assist.
- Alex Killorn - Lightning Goal and assist.