This was a fun opening night for the Lightning and their fans. For the third straight season, they won their home opener. They scored six goals. They rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. They won a game they trailed heading into the third period. They netted three power play goals. But the biggest takeaway from their 6-4 victory over Detroit was this - the Lightning played a relentless, speed game that allowed them to dominate play for most of the night. It's the sort of performance that we see from the Lightning when they are on top of their game.
Yes, they did commit a few mistakes that led to some goals against and there was an unlucky bounce on Detroit's fourth and final goal. But mistakes happen in hockey. And sometimes bounces don't go your way. What's important is that the Lightning handled well the adversity of an early 2-0 deficit. They also bounced back nicely after allowing a goal shortly after Jonathan Drouin's power play tally had gotten them on the board.
In the end, the final score and final shots (36-32 Lightning) were reasonably close. But in terms of shot attempts, the Lightning held a 74-47 advantage. And the ratio of scoring chances was even more lopsided in the Lightning's favor. It's true that Petr Mrazek might like back Cedric Paquette's second period goal. But he also denied so many great scoring chances. If not for his performance, the Lightning could have scored 10 or more goals.
As mentioned earlier, the power play was a big factor in the win. The Lightning want to improve upon last year's 28th ranked power play and they are off to a good start this year. The Bolts went 3-6 on the PP and produced nine shots during their man advantages. The two units did a effective job of funneling pucks to the net (which led to goals from Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn on tips). The Lightning also won six of nine power play faceoffs - this was an area in which they struggled last year.
There were other positives. The Lightning received depth scoring from Paquette and Brian Boyle. Drouin had a magnificent game, recording a goal and an assist along with a team-high five shots. Brayden Point had a strong NHL debut, playing over 16 minutes.
After this season-opening four-game homestand ends, the Lightning will be playing 19 of their next 28 on the road. So banking points in these first four are very important. They'll look to pick up some more when they host New Jersey on Saturday.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Drouin's PPG, which got the Lightning on the board.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Tyler Johnson - Lightning. PPG.
- Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. PPG and assist.
- Petr Mrazek - Red Wings. 30 saves.