Last night the Tampa Bay Lightning got the kind win that could turn a team’s season around. Going into the third period Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens had a 3-1 lead. Against a goal of Price’ caliber a two-goal deficit would be insurmountable, but the Lightning were able to overcome and eventually win the game 4-3 in overtime. Tampa Bay has four games remaining in their home stand and to get back into the fold they would need at least six more points. Tonight, the Lightning welcomed in youngster Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthews in his first NHL season has started this year with 17 goals in 34 games.
The Bolts started this game much like quite a few games this season. In the first 5 minutes of the game Tampa hadn’t recorded a shot on goal while Toronto had four shots. Power plays were coming a little more frequently as Tampa had three chances and the Maple Leafs two. Neither team was able to convert on the man advantage in the first when given the opportunity. Early in the season you saw the Lightning being very aggressive, but recently the aggressiveness usually comes after the team is down a goal or two. Toronto as the aggressor throughout most of the first period tonight which is why as both teams headed to their locker rooms for the first intermission Toronto had a 1-0 lead, The Lightning’s final penalty came with 1.3 seconds left on the clock allowing the Maple Leafs to have about two minutes of power play time to start the 2nd period. This game marked the 23rd time the Lightning allowed a first period lead in 36 games.
Tampa started on the penalty kill in the second period, and as Andrej Sustr’s penalty came to an end Anton Stralman would get called for hooking. Luckily the Lightning were able to kill off both penalties, what the Lightning did last night won’t happen every night. Most the mistakes the Lightning make seem to be self-inflicted and injuries have played a small part. Most the time you can look and see what a team is doing wrong, but with the Lightning right now that’s a long list. One of the good things has been the emergence of the Drouin, Boyle and Filppula line. With Drouin’s dynamic puck carrying ability Brian Boyle has taken advantage of his new line mates as tonight he raised his season goal average to nine with a nice goal that started with Drouin bringing the puck into the zone around three Maple Leafs. Just over five minutes later the Triplets would strike again. With the puck in the Toronto zone Johnson, Kucherov and Palat would force an aggressive forecheck on the Maple Leafs. Palat would strike on a mistake from a Toronto defenseman to tie the score up 2-2.
After coming back from the second intermission both teams would have a little skip in their step. It seemed with the two goals in the second period the Lightning woke up. It shouldn’t take a 2-0 deficit for this team to finally wake up in a game though. Both teams would trade scoring chances in the third period the best opportunity coming for the Lightning with under three minutes left. With the puck in the Toronto zone Jonathan Drouin would draw a big penalty that would lead to the Lightning’s best power play of the night. The passing was crisp and the shots were plenty as the Lightning kept the puck in te zone for over 45 seconds. As the third ended the Lightning looked to have all the momentum heading into overtime. With both teams getting a point the Lightning looked primed to get yet another come from behind victory, until a bad penalty happened. Valterri Filppula would rush into the Toronto zone at full speed and as he reached Maple Leafs goalie Antoine Bibeau, Jake Gardiner seemed to give Filppula a little shove in the Toronto goalie. With 1:23 in OT, and the man advantage Nazem Kadri would notch a rebound goal that Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t able to control to give the Maple Leafs the 3-2 win.
Up Next: The Carolina Hurricanes blow into town on New Year’s Eve to end 2016.
3 Stars of the Gane
1st Star: Nazem Kadri – Scores the game winner with the man advantage in overtime.
2nd Star: Brian Boyle – One goal tonight to continue his solid play as of late.
3rd Star: Auston Matthews – Scored his 18th goal of the season to open scoring in the game.