At this point, we all know that the Tampa Bay Lightning are not a great 1st period team so far into the season. However, it has not come back to haunt them so far. The Lightning have won 3 straight games, all in overtime, and all while they trailed at some point in the game. Head Coach Guy Boucher has been furious about his team’s tendency to start slowly, and has told us fans that he has discussed this with the team several times. The Lightning haven’t really responded consistently yet, but they have still been finding ways to win; that is always a positive.
The Lightning are on a three game win streak, and all are come from behind wins. Friday night of last week (11/4), the Lightning beat the Blackhawks by a score of 5-4. The Bolts didn’t give up a goal in the first, but did give up 15 shots on their net. As the game progressed, the Bolts were able to gain a 2-1 lead with under five minutes gone in the second period. However, the Lightning seemed to ease up a bit and give up three straight goals to the visiting Blackhawks. However, the Lightning were able to score two straight goals to tie the game, and then win it in overtime. The Bolts were able to showcase their composure that night, gaining a come from behind victory against a tough Blackhawks team.
The next game (11/6) for the Lightning was particularly painful to watch, especially for the first period and a half. The first period was a complete disaster. With Garon in the net, the Lightning surrendered 3 goals to the hometown Panthers. After the third goal, Garon was pulled from the net and relieved by Dwayne Roloson. The Lightning continued to give up shots to the Panthers (16 total in the 1st) but Dwayne Roloson was there to keep the game close, making several quality stops. The Lightning continued their lackluster play until about halfway through the 2nd period. The team seemed to be finally inspired by Roloson’s efforts in net. The lead was cut to just one goal after Malone and then Stamkos within the last five minutes of the 2nd period. The Bolts were able to tie the game up at 3 after 8:11 in the final period, and won it in the shootout. The Lightning’s terrible start in the third was definitely something to think about. However, a win is a win.
The Lightning played against the Flyers Wednesday night, and boy was this a defensive test for the team. The Flyers were the highest scoring team going into Wednesday. The Lightning were also in the top 5 for scoring in the league, but the focus here is defense. The Lightning did respond well during this game however. During the first period, the Lightning didn’t give up a goal and only gave up 6 shots to the Flyers. This was most likely the result of a 1-3-1 system that the Lightning employed, which completely dissatisfied the Flyers. I won’t get into ‘Stallgate’ much, but to be brief; the Flyers refused to play the puck into Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1 system, holding the puck in their own zone while the Lightning also sat back waiting for an attack. My opinion on this situation is the team WITH the puck should be held responsible for actually PLAYING the puck. As unentertaining as Tampa’s trap system may be, it is effective. The Lightning were down by one goal about midway through the 2nd period after yielding a powerplay goal to the Flyers. The Lightning came back to score two and a half minutes in the third period, and later scored a dramatic goal. Brett Connolly tapped in a rebound after Dominic Moore drove the puck into Bryzgalov for his third career goal.
While the Lightning are winning, their slow starts should really be a concern for all who support the team. However, fans can be a little more confident as of now after Wednesday night’s performance against the Flyers. For stats on the previous three games, check the links below.