Coming off Monday's game in Dallas, the Lightning wanted to produce a tighter defensive performance tonight. While they did greatly reduce the number of odd-man rush chances allowed, their overall defensive game still wasn't at the standard they set during their 10-game winning streak. Specifically, they had some puck management issues, problems that reduced their possession time.
But thanks to several key plays at critical moments, they were able to rally from a 2-0 deficit. After Alex Iafallo scored early in the second to extend the Los Angeles lead, the Kings almost added more. But Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped an Austin Wagner breakaway and Jan Rutta also had a goal-saving block in the crease. Those plays kept the Lightning deficit at two. Shortly thereafter, Tyler Johnson made a quick move at the defensive blue line to create a two-on-one rush with Ondrej Palat. Palat accepted a pass from Johnson, then returned it to him for a tap-in goal.
Before the period was up, the Lightning had tied it. Kurtis MacDermid went to the penalty box at 9:45 and the Lightning had a dominant power play. They created numerous scoring chances and narrowly missed scoring on several occasions. There were some Jonathan Quick saves, blocked shots from Kings penalty killers, and other attempts that barely missed the net. But after the penalty expired, the Lightning didn't let the Kings clear the puck. Thirteen seconds after the power play ended, Steven Stamkos ripped a one-timer into the top of the net.
The eventual winning goal came off a Stamkos faceoff win following a Los Angeles icing infraction. Erik Cernak's right point shot beat a screened Quick high on the stick side at 4:13 of the third. The Kings made a push to tie things up, firing 12 third period shots on Vasilevskiy, but they were unsuccessful. While the Lightning ceded most of the possession time in the third, they defended hard without the puck and limited the number of Grade-A chances. Stamkos finished the scoring with an empty-netter with less than a second remaining.
The Lightning are nearing the end of this road-heavy stretch, one in which they're playing 12 of 15 on the road. With two games left in that 15-game segment, they've gone 10-2-1.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 32 saves.
- Steven Stamkos - Lightning. Two goals and assist.
- Erik Cernak - Lightning. GWG.