For the second straight game, the Lightning rallied to win after spotting the opposition an early 2-0 lead. But unlike Thursday's contest against Detroit, a game in which the Lightning decisively carried the action for long stretches, this one was much more evenly played.
The game was punctuated by momentum swings - periods of time when one team had the opponent back on its heels. The Devils had early momentum and built a 2-0 advantage in the opening 4:26. The Lightning pushed back in the middle of the period, generating a number of chances during their first power play opportunity of the game. But the end of the frame again belonged to the Devils. While first period shots ended in a 13-13 tie, the Devils had the far more dangerous chances and owned the two-goal lead.
However, the Lightning grabbed momentum for the first half of the second period. They posted nine of the period's first 10 shots, tying the game in the process. But after Alex Killorn's tally at 10:07, the Devils surged. They recorded the next eight shots on goal (not including Andy Greene's goal that was overturned by a successful coach's challenge). After the disallowed goal, which came with about four and a half minutes left in the period, the Lightning had the run of play until the intermission.
The third period was more back-and-forth, as the teams traded chances throughout. The winning goal came off a Valtteri Filppula tip of a Jason Garrison point shot. But the play was made by Brayden Point. After a New Jersey d-zone faceoff win, Point was first to the puck behind the Devils' net. He grabbed it and passed it back to Garrison for the shot. Point earned his first NHL point with an assist on the goal.
The Filppula tally at 5:43 proved to be the game-winner, but there were some anxious moments for the Lightning down the stretch. Andrei Vasilevskiy was terrific throughout the game and was a big reason why the Bolts were able to preserve the lead.
I don't know how the Devils will fare this season. But if they consistently play they way they did tonight, they are going to win a lot of games. They were hard on pucks and played with high urgency.
The Lightning know they can't expect to rally from multi-goal deficits on a regular basis. They'll need a much better start on Tuesday, when the 2-0 Panthers come to town.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Filppula's GWG in the third.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 32 saves.
- Valtteri Filppula - Lightning. GWG.
- Taylor Hall - Devils. Dangerous throughout the game.