On Friday in Washington, the Lightning lost the special teams battle and it cost them the game. In this contest against Ottawa, the Lightning won the special teams battle and that was a big reason why they were able to begin their six-game homestand with a victory.
The early part of the first period featured a number of significant plays. Just 1:40 into the game, Mark Borowiecki was given a major penalty and game misconduct for a high hit on Brian Boyle. Boyle left the game due to injury and did not return. So the Lightning, who dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, played the rest of the game with only 10 forwards. Also, Braydon Coburn, who fought Borowiecki immediately after the hit, was assessed an instigator penalty, fighting major and 10-mintue misconduct. So he was not available for most of the first period.
The Coburn instigator and Borowiecki major put the teams into a four-on-four for two minutes. Then the Lightning got three minutes of major power play time. Shortly after the three-minute major began, however, the Lightning turned the puck over in the neutral zone and yielded an odd-man shorthanded rush. Zack Smith finished an in-alone chance on Ben Bishop to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead.
Had the Lightning not eventually scored on the major, the Sens would have gotten a huge momentum boost. But Nikita Nesterov did score before the major expired – he ripped a center point slap shot past a screened Andrew Hammond to tie the score. Shortly thereafter, the Lightning received a five-on-three when Jonathan Marchessault drew a tripping penalty. The Bolts didn’t score on the five-on-three, but did tally the go-ahead goal on the eventual five-on-four. Vladdy Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos teamed up on a slick passing play – Stamkos finished from the bottom of the left circle to make it 2-1 at 7:16 of the period.
Before the first period ended, Ottawa defenseman Cody Ceci also left with an injury, leaving the Sens with only four defensemen. Then, in the second period, Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan also left the game due to injury. So both teams played most of the game with a shortened bench.
The Boyle injury left a big void. And Mike Angelidis helped fill it. He played over 14 minutes and contributed an important goal early in the second. After Marchessault won a puck battle in the offensive zone, Mike Blunden took the puck to the net. Hammond made an initial save, but Angelidis forced in the rebound.
After scoring on those two early power play chances, the Lightning didn’t get another power play for the rest of the game. But they had to kill five consecutive penalties. They got through the first three unscathed. But six seconds after the fourth one was killed, the Lightning allowed a goal. Erik Karlsson blasted a point shot over Bishop’s stick to cut the Lightning lead to 3-2. That goal came with 5:32 left in the second period.
The Lightning didn’t have the puck much in the early stages of the third period, but limited Ottawa’s scoring chances. Valtteri Filppula couldn’t score on a penalty shot at 8:56, but that chance seemed to help turn momentum. The Bolts enjoyed several extended offensive zone shifts in the second half of the period. They also successfully killed one more Ottawa power play, which came late in the third. Alex Killorn and Stamkos scored empty-netters to set the final at 5-2.
The Lightning played well in this game – and did it again with only 10 forwards. As was the case in the win over Toronto on Tuesday, the recent recalls from Syracuse contributed offensively. Two power play goals gave the Lightning a lead they never relinquished. And after a rough night in Washington on Friday, the penalty kill went 5-5 to help preserve the lead.
The homestand is off to a good start. With any luck, some of the injured players will be returning to the lineup as the homestand continues.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Nesterov’s PPG, which tied the score at one.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Mike Angelidis – Lightning. Goal. Played over 14 minutes.
2.Steven Stamkos – Lightning. Two goals. Seven shots.
3.Erik Karlsson – Senators. Goal. 36:34 TOI.