The biggest takeaway from this game, from the Lightning’s perspective, is that they played much better than they did Tuesday in Toronto. The Bolts were facing a desperate Ottawa team that needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Due to injuries, the Lightning had to manage (again) without four of their top six defensemen and Tyler Johnson. After a shaky start, the Lightning played a solid, overall game.
That start, however, was shaky. In the opening minutes, the Lightning struggled to complete passes and, as a result, yielded several counter chances to the Senators. One of those rushes led to a rebound goal for Mark Stone at 5:03. Shortly thereafter, the Senators got a power play with a chance to extend the lead. But the Bolts killed it off – and the successful penalty kill gave them some momentum. For much of the final 10 minutes of the first, the Lightning dictated play. The tied the game on the power play after winning an important puck battle. The puck was loose along the boards near the Ottawa blue line. Three Ottawa penalty killers converged on it, attempting to force it out. But Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula worked hard to keep it in – and Filppula tapped it to Anton Stralman at the left point. Stralman hurried the feed cross ice to Jonathan Drouin. Because the Sens had flooded the one side, Drouin was wide open. He had a two-on-one down low with Killorn – and Drouin took the shot. He roofed it over Andrew Hammond’s glove to tie the score. Great to see Drouin convert, scoring his second goal in the past three games.
Much of the final two periods were evenly played. Both teams had moments when they applied pressure, but both goalies were solid. Each team hit posts – the Sens hit two and Cedric Paquette banked one off the pipe for the Lightning. As a whole, the Lightning defensive structure was sound and they limited Ottawa’s looks off the rush. Given the Lightning’s youth and inexperience on defense, this was an impressive accomplishment. Slater Koekkoek, playing just his second NHL game, performed exceptionally well. He exuded calmness and poise under pressure and wasn’t shy about jumping in the play and shooting the puck. And hailing from nearby Winchester, Ontario, he did it in front of (reportedly) over 400 friends and family in attendance.
The Sens did get the OT win when Patrick Wiercioch got open at the right circle and beat Bishop with a clean shot. The Sens were able to keep pace with the Boston Bruins, who rallied for a win in Detroit.
The Lightning will head to Sunrise, where they will wrap up the road portion of their regular season schedule on Saturday. They can expect another desperate opponent – and will need to play another sound, structured game.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Wiercioch’s OT goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Patrick Wiercioch – Senators. OT goal.
2.Slater Koekkoek – Lightning. Terrific performance in second NHL game.
3.Mark Stone –