The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Brooklyn reeling a bit after getting destroyed by the New York Rangers in their previous contest on Sunday. They would square off against a talented New York Islanders squad who like the Lightning had been inconsistent start to their regular season through their first 9 games. Both teams would look to start fast as they were well versed in their opponents ability to light the lamp quickly after their eastern conference semi-final playoff series last year.
The first period would start with some fireworks as Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin would take a nasty and questionable hit from Calvin De Haan who would hit Droun as his head was down. De Haan would get a 5 minute major penalty for interference and exchange fists with Bolts veteran Ryan Callahan who came to his injured teammates aid after a rough hit. Drouin would head to the locker room and miss the rest of the game with an upper body injury. The Drouin injury and subsequent fight appeared to unleash a Lightning offensive attack not seen since the Toronto Maple Leafs game this year. Nikita Kucherov would open the scoring flood gates with the first goal of the game on the ensuing power play. Kucherov would not be satisfied with a single goal however, as he would later add a second power play goal only nine minutes later after a Ryan Strome delay of game penalty. Tampa would continue to press the action smelling blood in the water as Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would bury his league leading 7th goal of the game off a beautiful pass from his line mate Nikita Kucherov giving the Lightning a commanding 3-0 lead as the 1st period would come to a close. The Islanders would yank goaltender Thomas Greiss after Stamkos’s goal choosing to go with Jaroslav Halak the rest of the game in hopes of turning the game around in the following periods.
Any hope Halak and the Islanders would be able to turn the game around died when Lightning center Brian Boyle would bury a beautiful backhanded shot past Halak giving the Lightning a huge 4-0 lead early in the 2nd period drawing jeers from the home Brooklyn crowd. Boyle would complete the 2nd part of “the Gordie Howe” by immediately delivering a beating to Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic who started a fight with Boyle on the ensuing faceoff. The Islanders would get their first power play opportunity of the night, but it would not matter to the Lightning’s offensive juggernaut attack. J.T. Brown would take a turnover and score a terrific short-handed goal to increase the Bolts lead to 5-0 midway through the 2nd period. Shortly, after Brown’s goal, Valtteri Filppula would throw a puck on the Islanders net that got lost in the defenseman’s legs and would squirt by Halak to give the Lightning a 6-0 lead. The Islanders would finally get on the board as Dennis Seidenberg would blast a booming shot past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop right before the period ended to make the game a 6-1 Bolts blowout as they headed to the 3rd period.
The 3rd period would be fairly uneventful as the Lightning were ready to go home after a long road trip having effectively secured a win leading by 5 goals. The Brooklyn crowd was already heading to the exits after the 2nd period came to a close. The Islanders appeared to oblige despite getting a few power plays in the period. The team looked like it was ready to pack it in and regroup after another disappointing outing. Ben Bishop would make a few flashy saves to kill off all of the remaining Islanders power play hopes and secure a big road win for the Lightning to close out their road trip. In the end the Lightning would out shoot the Islanders 36-27, and destroy the Islanders on the scoreboard 6-1 for a impressive victory.
The Lightning would improve to 6-4-0, and 12 points. The Islanders would fall to 4-6-0, for 8 points on the year.
The Lightning will finally return home to friendly confines of Amalie Arena on November 3rd to face the Boston Bruins beginning at 7:30 pm.
MY THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1st Star: Nikita Kucherov –Kucherov was a points producing machine tonight. He buried the first two goals of the game, and then added two more assists for good measure. If Kucherov has found his scoring touch, the NHL could be in some serious trouble facing this Lightning club.
2nd Star: Brian Boyle – Boyle was everything the Bolts needed from its grinder line tonight. He put in a beautiful back-handed goal, and took care of business with his fists when Hamonic tried to spark his team with a fight early in the 2nd period. He just missed the glorious “Gordie Howe” (A Goal, an assist, and a fight) but two out of three is nothing to complain about during his night in Brooklyn.
3rd Star: Slater Koekkoek – In the young defenseman’s first NHL appearance of the regular season, he helped spark a sluggish Lightning offense chipping in 2 key assists for his first points of the year. If Koekkoek can bring some offensive spark to the 2nd or 3rd defensive pairings he’ll likely stay in Cooper’s active rotation for the entire year.