The Tampa Bay Lightning were handed their second regulation loss of the season on Saturday night by the Anaheim Ducks. Monday night against fellow Atlantic Division rivals, the Florida Panthers, the Bolts came out ready to right a few wrongs.
The Lightning came out with a bit of panache to start their thirteenth game of the young season. With the loss on Saturday night still leaving a sour taste in their mouth, they aimed to press their weight onto the Panthers. They did this with a plethora of scoring chances. Not to mention a passing display that made you wish your head was on a swivel.
Eerily similar to their last meeting with the Panthers in Sunrise, Tampa Bay started by scoring goals early. Forwards Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov found pay dirt, beating Florida goaltender James Reimer, to give the Bolts an early 2-0 lead.
The Lightning were eager to come away from Sunrise with a win.
Unfortunately, they were also keen to have history repeat. Florida played their way back into the game and scored goals of their own.
On a goal that Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy must want back, the Panthers began their climb back into contention. They commanded play the majority of the back-half of the first and beginning of the second. It seemed like it was only a matter of time.
While this comeback was forming, Tampa Bay was able to orchestrate a Steven Stamkos patented one-timer to score on the power play.
In the blink of an eye, Florida made Tampa Bay look confused and out of synch.
Led by their top line, the Bolts would right their sinking ship and score three straight times in the second period. With the game quickly getting out of hand, Point fed fellow forward, Ondrej Palat, on a rush to regain the Lightning lead at 4-3.
It wouldn’t stop there, as Tampa Bay rekindled their competitive fire and put together two more goals from Yanni Gourde and Vladislav Namestnikov. To start the third, the Lightning had a 6-3 lead and were twenty minutes from a solid bounce-back win.
While 13 of the 18 Lightning players registered a point, it would be the line of Palat, Point, and Gourde that really shined for the boys in blue. This combination accounted for six points and a whole lot of Panther frustration. The trio flowed together flawlessly as they stifled Florida’s attack and generated several scoring chances.
In the end, it would be the offense who determined this game and not goaltending. If I need any proof in this statement, the final score was 8-5. Yes, you read that right. That’s a total of thirteen goals in one game.
The sudden attack by Tampa Bay forced Reimer from the Florida net and brought in former Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Antti Niemi to finish the tilt. Niemi must see Lightning blue in his nightmares as the Bolts scored a total of twelve goals on him in his last two starts against them. He would fair somewhat better this night and only let in two goals on 18 shots.
On the other side of the rink, Vasilevskiy would rather forget this one. It seemed like a great a night as any for the Russian goaltender to have a bad game. His explosive offense was able to bail him and the lackluster defense out with a win in this high-scoring affair.
The Lightning (10-2-1) return home for a pair of games this week, as the New York Rangers visit Amalie Arena on Thursday night. Puck drops at 7:30 pm.
My Three Stars of the Game
- Steven Stamkos, 2 goals and 1 assist
- Aleksander Barkov, 1 goal and 3 assists
- Palat, Gourde, and Point Line, 3 goals and 3 assists
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