The Tampa Bay Lightning headed into Pittsburgh looking to end a two-game skid. Losing to Ottawa due to a brutal third period and then to Buffalo due to Carter Hutton, Tampa Bay needed a win. Adding injury to insult, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy suffered a fractured foot in practice. Tampa Bay truly needed something to smile about against the Penguins after a tough five days. Fortunately for them, Brayden Point made Lightning history at PPG Paints Arena.
A frustrating start
The Lightning have gotten into a bad habit of digging themselves into a hole early. Thursday night’s game was no different. The Lightning gave up two goals early thanks in large part to three consecutive Pittsburgh power plays. After killing off one power play they went back on the penalty kill only minutes later. Patric Hornqvist scored the game’s first goal on the Penquins’ second power play off a deflection.
Later in the first during 4-on-4 play thanks to matching roughing minors, Mikhail Sergachev batted a puck out of play and received a delay of game call. Pittsburgh went on to score their second power play goal after a missed hand pass call that would have stopped play. Pittsburgh held all of the games momentum, having received the games first three power plays and heavily out-shooting the Lightning
Tampa Bay went on the power play for the first time when Pittsburgh committed two quick penalties. The Lightning won the faceoff, but before they could get a shot off, Pittsburgh committed another penalty. With an extended two-man advantage, the Lightning recognized their opportunity and capitalized. Point went top shelf and put Tampa Bay on the board with just under three seconds left in the period.
A hat trick for Point
Tampa Bay started the period 5-on-3 thanks to the late penalties by the Penguins. Point quickly scored, tying the game at two. Still on the power play, the Lightning took control in the offensive zone and some excellent passing led to Point’s third goal of the game. Brayden Point’s first hat trick in the NHL gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead. He needed just 91 seconds to score his three goals, shattering the Lightning record for fastest hat trick in team history. Marty St. Louis held the previous record when he scored three goals in 6:17 against Carolina on October 26, 2006. Point’s hat trick was the sixth-fastest in NHL history and the second-fastest to occur on the road.
Pittsburgh later tied it up when Bolts goalie Louis Domingue failed to get his glove on a puck, where an alert Hornqvist banged it in. Almost six minutes of even strength hockey came to an end when Garrett Wilson ran into Domingue. Wilson headed to the box for interference, giving the Lightning their fourth power play of the night. The Lightning made it a perfect 4-for-4 with the man-advantage when Yanni Gourde scored on a great slap shot.
Special teams continued to be the theme of the night, but after dominance from both power play units, the penalty kill units took over. Both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay were awarded power plays in the second half of the period. However, the score remained unchanged as both teams’ power play was thwarted.
Bolts hang on for the win
For all the craziness of the previous two periods, the game seemed to settle down in the third. Pittsburgh pushed the pace looking for the tying goal. Domingue stepped up and made some great saves, including a breakaway by Zach Aston-Reese. With time running out, Pittsburgh pulled Matt Murray for an extra attacker. The man-advantage helped Pittsburgh generate some great chances, but they were ultimately unable to tie it up. The final nail in the coffin came with only six seconds left when Kris Letang was forced to tackle Anthony Cirelli to avoid giving up an empty netter. Point won the final faceoff ending the game 4-3 in favor of the Lightning.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st star: Brayden Point – First career hat trick
2nd Star: Nikita Kucherov – Three assists
3rd Star: Louis Domingue – Made 28 saves on 31 shots
The Lightning face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at 1 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.
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