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Crashing The Net: Bolts Look To Start New Year Strong
The Tampa Bay Lightning (19-16-4) look to start off the New Year with a bang! The Bolts have won four of their last seven, but hope to bounce back from Tuesday night’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets (19-19-3), as they’ll take on the Nashville Predators (16-14-7), Philadelphia Flyers (20-15-5), and Pittsburgh Penguins (25-8-5) this week. Can the Lightning keep on keeping on or will the inconsistencies of last year come back? Let’s go over the week ahead with a fine-toothed comb in Crashing The Net!
Montreal Canadiens (24-9-6)
When: Wednesday, December 28th at Amalie Arena
Score: 4-3 OT
Shots: 30-22 TBL
Power Play: 1/3
Penalty Kill: 1/2
Key Moment: Down 3-1 to start the third, the Lightning decided to make this one interesting and surge back to tie the game with under ten minutes left. They would then complete the comeback with an overtime goal from Tyler Johnson (11G, 10A) to beat the division-leading Canadiens in crushing fashion. This had the feeling of a signature win for the Bolts, giving them something they could build upon for the rest of the season.
Toronto Maple Leafs (17-12-8)
When: Thursday, December 29th at Amalie Arena
Score: 3-2 OT
Shots: 35-27 TOR
Power Play: 0/5
Penalty Kill: 4/5
Key Moment: The Maple Leafs owned the first, the Lightning the second, but this one was to be decided in overtime when Toronto’s Nazem Kadri (13G, 8A) pushed a rebound past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (10W, 2.48GAA, .918Sv%) to seal the deal.
Carolina Hurricanes (16-14-7)
When: Saturday, December 31st at Amalie Arena
Shots: 27-25 CAR
Power Play: 2/3
Penalty Kill: 4/4
Key Moment: An explosive first period for the Bolts was the clincher in this one. Someone lit a fire under the Lighting power play, because after suffering a goose egg against Toronto, the extra man was on it Saturday night with goals from Brian Boyle (10G, 3A) and Jonathan Drouin (11G, 11A). This would prove to be the key moment as the Bolts never looked back and exited 2016 with a solid victory over the Hurricanes.
Lightning Statistics From Last Week:
Games Played: 3
Losses: 1 in OT
Points: 5 out of 6
Goals For: 9
Goals Allowed: 7
Power Play: 3/11 = 27.2%
Penalty Kill: 9/11 = 81.8%
Earlier This Week:
Winnipeg Jets (19-19-3)
Where: Amalie Arena, Florida
When: Tuesday, January 3rd – 7:30PM
Shots: 36-34 TBL
Power Play: 2/7
Penalty Kill: 3/4
Key Moment: Nikolaj Ehlers (13G, 22A) was a plague to the Lightning on Tuesday night as he accounted for two of the six goals scored against the Bolts. The key moment of this game was his second score, which made it 5-2 with a little over ten minutes left in the third. This would prove to be the game-winner for the Jets, even after a gutsy surge that saw the Lightning come back within one before getting felled with an empty net goal to seal the win for Winnipeg.
Nashville Predators (16-14-6)
Where: Amalie Arena, Florida
When: Thursday, January 5th – 7:30PM
Where to Watch: SunS, FSTN
The Lightning and Predators meet again on Thursday night. The last time these two faced off was back in November where Nashville bested the Bolts by a score of 3-1. The Predators have been a great foe for the Lightning as they have won eight of their last ten meetings against them since 2010. Nashville will be without the services of P.K. Subban (7G, 10A) as he is nursing a lower-body injury. That is a positive for the Lightning, because Subban has always been a thorn in Tampa Bay’s side since his days with Montreal.
The Predators still have plenty of firepower in their lineup with forward Ryan Johansen (7G, 20A) and Viktor Arvidsson (10G, 14A) leading the way. Arvidsson was able to score on the Bolts back in November and Johansen has been heating up as of late with four points in his last six games. Now is the time for the Lightning to strike because Nashville has been struggling for wins, with only two since December 20th.
Philadelphia Flyers (20-14-5)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Pennsylvania
When: Saturday, January 7th – 1:00PM
Where to Watch: SunS, CSNP
Tee up a Saturday matinee against the big bad Flyers for the Lightning on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center. The Lightning have faced the Flyers twice already this season and have won both, outscoring Philadelphia 7-2 in both contests. This will be the third and final time these two clubs face off this season, with Tampa Bay on the brink of a sweep against their Eastern Conference brothers.
Since those two meetings, the Flyers are still hovering near the top of the goal scoring category as they are fifth in the NHL with 114 goals this season. One can chalk this up to their potent power play, which is red hot at 22.0% and is led by top-notch goal scorer in Wayne Simmons (17G, 15A), who leads his team with eight power play tallies this season. The Lightning were successful against Philadelphia with their speed in their first two meetings, and if something is not broke, why fix it? For the Bolts to be successful here, they need to use their happy feet and not look back.
Pittsburgh Penguins (25-8-5)
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pennsylvania
When: Sunday, January 8th – 1:00PM
Where to Watch: SunS, ROOT
The Lightning end the week with another afternoon matinee against the defending 2015-16 Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. The last time the Lightning faced them, they blew a two-goal lead in the third and lost the game 4-3. With two of the top scorers in the entire NHL in Sidney Crosby (26G, 16A) and Evgeni Malkin (16G, 27A), the Lightning will need to bottle those two up for the entire 60 minutes.
Pittsburgh won’t make that easy, as they are the second-highest scoring team in the league and have the fifth-best power play to boot. The Tampa Bay defense will need to be on high alert at all times even when Crosby or Malkin are on the bench, because the Penguins can find the back of the net no matter who is on the ice for them this season. Look for a high-flying match-up between these two, as they have proven time and time again that they won’t skimp out on the fireworks when playing one another.