Coming off two straight losses, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to stem the tide and grind out a shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, powered by two Steven Stamkos goals and Dwayne Roloson’s 200th career win. The Lightning didn’t get the start they wanted, surrendering the first goal of the night to Columbus.
However unlike other games recently, Roloson took the challenge and shut the door. He didn’t allow the game to get out of hand, making a couple of key saves after letting in the first goal.
It’s good Roloson was on his game, because it took a while for the rest of the team to find it. Around half the period went by before the Lightning registered an official shot on net. The game had a lot of flow to it, but it was much more of a back-and-forth style, with neither team establishing solid puck possession or pressure.
Roloson was able to stand tall in net long enough for the Lightning to find that game before the first period ended. Defenseman Victor Hedman started a rush up the ice that ended in Stamkos scoring his 34th goal of the season to knot the game up at 1 before intermission.
The Lightning would go on to pull ahead on another Stamkos goal, this time on the power play. However, Columbus tied the game again before the end of the period. Columbus had a few chances to put this game away on the power play, but the Tampa Bay penalty kill was on its game tonight. It took away time and space without sacrificing positioning. The PK unit was perfect tonight.
The third period didn’t solve anything as the teams remained tied at 2 after regulation ended. Overtime was a draw, and Ryan Malone was the hero in the shootout, being the only player from either team to score.
This was an important win for the Bolts. Not only did they win a tight, low-scoring game that involved a lot of defense, but they were able to break out of their mini-slump. The timing couldn’t have been better with the Washington Capitals losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime. They earned a point in the loss, but Tampa gained two in their win, giving them sole possession of the Southeast division lead.
The timing, style, and ability of this win is just what the Lightning needed to get out of a rut. They won’t have much time to enjoy it with three straight division games coming up on the schedule, including two against a slipping Atlanta Thrashers team. This is the perfect opportunity for the Lightning to gain some space in the standings: let’s see if they take advantage.
1st: Dwayne Roloson
2nd: Steven Stamkos
3rd: Victor Hedman
Highlights courtesy of NHL.com