Here are the key takeaways from this Lightning victory.
- The Lightning cleaned up many of the coverage issues that plagued them in Thursday's loss to Minnesota. Yes, the Sharks posted 38 shots on net. But the number of actual scoring chances for the Sharks was low. The Lightning defended tightly in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy, so the Sharks didn't generate many open looks or rebound chances.
- But there were some of those - and that's when Vasilevskiy was at his sharpest. He made all of the routine saves, but also stopped the tough ones. His best stop came early in the second period on a point-blank rush chance for Kevin Lebanc.
- Special teams played a role in the outcome. In the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Lightning successfully killed six minutes worth of penalties. After killing off the initial penalty, they netted the game's first goal. They preserved that lead by getting through a double-minor. The Lightning received a four-minute power play of their own late in the second period. The Sharks own the best penalty-kill percentage in the NHL, but Steven Stamkos tallied a power play goal in the final minute of the power play (and the last minute of the second period). That goal extended the Lightning lead to 3-0 and took much of the wind out of San Jose's sails. Before the third period was even a minute old, the Lightning had added another goal, essentially putting the game away.
- For the first time in a couple of weeks, Jon Cooper used a lineup with 12 forwards and six defensemen. All four forward lines clicked, including a newly-formed unit of Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Carter Verhaeghe. Verhaeghe had his best game in the NHL so far, contributing his first NHL goal and two assists. He was a puck hound all night and, as a result, created opportunities for his linemates. He made a terrific pass to Johnson on the opening goal. Early in the third, his speed on the forecheck forced a turnover from San Jose goalie Aaron Dell behind the goal and moments later, Johnsons scored into the vacated net. Then, in the final minute, Verhaeghe finished a perfect shot into the top of the net. But he wasn't the only player to enjoy a multi-point game. Stamkos and Victor Hedman also finished with three points. Johnson tallied the aforementioned two goals. Alex Killorn, playing on a line with Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph, posted four points (including the game-winning goal).
In all, this was strong bounce-back game from the disappointing loss to Minnesota. The Lightning were solid defensively, strong offensively, and they won the special teams battle.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Alex Killorn - Lightning. Goal and three assists.
- Steven Stamkos - Lightning. Two PPG and assist.
- Carter Verhaeghe - Lightning. Scored first NHL goal and added two assists.