Last Week: Rebound is a key word in the NHL. Whether it is off a goaltender or snapping a losing streak, good teams figure out ways to make it happen, and the Tampa Bay Lightning did just that last week. Coming off of a road trip with a few rough patches, the Lightning bounced back by claiming five out of six points in last week’s games to improve to 7-5-1 on the season and maintain second place in the Atlantic Division. They started off the week with an exclamation point against the New York Islanders, stomping their foes by a score of 6-1 and chasing out Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss with time to spare in the first. There would be a dark spot in this contest as Islanders defenseman Calvin de Hann laid a hit on Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which caused him to leave the game and not return for the rest of the night. On the good side, Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek would make his season debut on the Bolts’ back end and put together a solid performance dishing out two apples, one a beautiful pass to Steven Stamkos that put the Lightning up 3-0 in the first.
Two days later, the Lightning welcomed the Boston Bruins into their barn for their first meeting of the season. The Lightning would find themselves down by two in the first, a common trend so far this season. However, this time would prove to be different, as Victor Hedman would score on the power play and the Lightning would only go into the second down a goal. The two teams would then trade goals until Lightning forward Tyler Johnson tied the game at three a piece with little under ten minutes left in the third. The two clubs would continue to press one another through the rest of the third and even into the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime. This buzzer would sound and this game would be determined in a game of Russian roulette commonly known as a shootout. Once the smoke had cleared, the game would be decided in the tenth round with Boston netting the winning goal.
The Lightning would then greet the New Jersey Devils at Amalie Arena on Saturday night. This game would be the final one of the season series between the two clubs, which both team held a win. In this game, Nikita Kucherov and Hedman would share the spotlight as both had a goal and an assist to help the Lightning take the series with a 4-1 win. The Bolts would give up the first goal to the Devils early in the first, but found a way to pull out of the quicksand and answer back. This would also be the game that rookie forward Brayden Point scored his first NHL goal off a tip in from a Kucherov shot on net. Point has set himself up with many great scoring chances already this season, so it was fitting that his first would come off a deflection. The Lightning would also continue their power play goal streak to a season high four games.
On Monday night, the Lightning would travel to Sunrise, FL to face the Florida Panthers for the second time this season. Both teams would play a fundamentally solid game, highlighted by speed, defense, and superb goaltending. The deciding factor in this one would be Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo. Luongo has been a constant thorn in the Lightning’s side since he first came into the league. In this game, he would come away with 34 saves while being named the number one star. The lone Tampa Bay scorer was Ondrej Palat (2G, 3A) early in the third off a mishandled puck turned fluky bounce by a Panther defenseman. Even though the Lightning were unable to obtain a victory, they did play a respectable game. Unfortunately for them, the Luongo played a better one.
Standout Moment of The Week: The standout moment of the week for me was Point’s first NHL goal. Point has worked so hard to prove that he belongs in the NHL and if you watch any of his tape, you can see that he does. He just needed to get that first goal out of the way to prove that to himself and you can see it in his celebration when he scored against New Jersey. Look forward to many more moments like this for Point in his career, as he is one of the bright young stars finding his way in the National Hockey League.
Lightning Statistics From Last Week:
Games Played: 4
Loses: 2 (1 in SO)
Goals For: 14
Goals Allowed: 9
Power Play: 5/15= 33.3%
Penalty Kill: 1/12= .91.6%
New York Islanders (4-6-2)
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
When: Thursday, November 10th – 7:30PM
Where to Watch: Fox Sun Sports, MSG+
The Islanders come into Amalie Arena on Thursday night seeking revenge for the 6-1 drubbing they received by the Bolts earlier this season. That loss has plagued them since last week, as they have found themselves on a three-game losing streak with back-to-back shootout losses to the Philadelphia Flyers (6-6-1) and Edmonton Oilers (9-3-1). Tonight’s game is the second of three meeting between the Lightning and Islanders with the third coming the following Thursday so look for both teams to get real comfortable with one another.
The Lightning need to look out for Islanders forward and captain John Tavares (5G, 5A), who is dead set on righting the Islanders’ sinking ship. Tavares is currently riding a four-game point streak and is playing some of his most competitive hockey. He is enhancing all aspects of his game as he leads the team in shots with 45, total ice time at a 20:30 average per game, and faceoff wins with 129.
San Jose Sharks (6-6-0)
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
When: Saturday, November 12th – 7:00PM
Where to Watch: Fox Sun Sports, CSCA
The Lightning finish off their week against the 2016 Clarence S. Campbell Bowl winner San Jose Sharks. The Bolts and Sharks will meet only twice this year so both teams are looking for that first win in the series. Last year these teams split the series at one apiece and would have met in the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals if the Lightning had overcome the Pittsburgh Penguins (8-2-2) in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Sharks have been playing sub-.500 hockey this season and have had plenty of highs and lows. Just recently they came off of a three-game winning streak only to fall into a three-game losing streak. Their most recent loss, a 5-0 beating at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has led to call-ups in the hope to spark their scoring.
This is surprising due to the amount of talent the San Jose Sharks possess in names such as Brent Burns (4G, 7A) and Joe Pavelski (4G, 8A). These quick playmakers have found themselves frustrated with their lack of productivity and plan on doing everything they can to take it out on opposing teams. With their scoring suffering at the moment, one has to appreciate their penalty kill as it is standing at an impressive 87.1%, which is currently 7th best in the league. This will be a great test for the Lightning’s recently hot power play, something that we are a bit unaccustomed to seeing the last few years.