A look back at the Lightning's recent success in its third game of the season
Tampa Bay's thrilling, come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals last night got me thinking: What is it about the third game of the season that brings out the best in the Bolts?
In the last four seasons alone, the Lightning have produced some of their most remarkable victories in game No. 3.
The win over the Capitals -- a team the Bolts have lost to more often than they've defeated in recent memory -- is another in a string of impactful third-game wins for the Bolts
With a couple days before Tampa Bay takes the ice again on Thursday versus Pittsburgh, let's relive last night's heroics as well as some other great memories from recent game 3s in Bolts' history.
The Montreal Canadiens swept the Lightning, who were without goalie Ben Bishop, in the first round of the 2013-14 playoffs. The Bolts got a chance for revenge against their nemesis from the North in the third game of the 2014-15 season.
Boy did they ever cash in.
Tampa Bay put up a seven spot at home versus Les Habs, opening up a 4-1 lead and chasing star goalie Carey Price from the game at the second intermission.
Steven Stamkos scored three goals, including two goals on the power play, for the eighth hat trick of his career
That old-fashioned thumping set the tone for the remainder of the Bolts-Habs series in 2014-15. The Lightning would sweep all five regular season games against Montreal, winning by a combined 21-8. And after Montreal captured the Atlantic Division regular season title and the Lightning finished second, the two squads would meet up in the Eastern Conference Semis, the Bolts sprinting out to a 3-0 lead in the series before putting away the Habs in six games and moving on to the franchise's third-ever Eastern Conference Final.
BEATDOWN IN BEANTOWN
Entering the 2015-16 season, Tampa Bay hadn't won in Boston in 10 trips. The Lightning, in fact, only had four wins all-time in Boston in 43 tries.
But the Bolts put an emphatic end to that dubious streak on Oct. 12, 2015, doubling up the Bruins for a cathartic 6-3 win at TD Garden.
The Lightning spotted Boston a pair of first-period power-play goals, then proceeded to systematically dismantle the Bruins for the duration. Former Bolt Brian Boyle netted two goals, and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored the game-winner on a power-play one-timer from his office in the left circle.
Besides ending over five seasons of futility in Boston, Stamkos' tally was also historic as it was his 500th career point.
The Lightning started the 2016-17 season 2-0-0 but win No. 3 seemed to be slipping out of their grasp as the Florida Panthers held a 3-2 advantage late inside AMALIE Arena after Michael Matheson scored a go-ahead goal with 4:08 remaining.
No lead is safe, however, with Steven Stamkos on the ice.
With goalie Ben Bishop pulled for the extra attacker and time running out, Victor Hedman swung the puck over to Stamkos, who was standing on the goal line to the right of Panthers' goalie James Reimer, halfway between the goal and the boards.
Nobody thought Stamkos had the angle to shoot.
Nobody, that is, except Stamkos.
With just six seconds left in regulation, Stamkos cranked a perfectly-placed one-timer into the top opposite corner of the net, tying the game 3-3 and sending the contest to overtime and an eventual shootout.
In Round 6 of the shootout, Brayden Point converted for the first game-winning goal of his career, and the Lightning improved to a perfect 3-0-0 to start 2016-17
Success versus Washington has been fleeting in recent seasons for the Lightning. Entering Monday night's tilt, the Bolts were 4-10-2 against the Capitals since 2012-13.
The opening period in their first meeting of 2017-18 looked like more of the same. The Capitals scored two quick goals late in the period to go up 2-0 heading into the first intermission. The Caps pushed their lead to 3-1 after T.J. Oshie converted his second power-play marker of the game 7:49 into the second period.
But from that moment, the Lightning dominated and produced one of the better come-from-behind wins in recent memory.
Chris Kunitz ignited the rally, netting his first goal in a Tampa Bay sweater with 1:51 left in the second period. Nikita Kucherov leveled the score 3-3 midway through the third on a beautiful passing sequence between he, Anton Stralman and Alex Killorn that resulted in Kucherov's well-placed backhander over Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer at the edge of the crease.
In overtime, Kucherov sealed the comeback win, ripping a one-timer from the left circle, a shot tipped ever-so-slightly by Brayden Point into the back of the net for a 4-3 victory.