It seemed to be a case of animal cruelty as Tampa took on in-state rivals The Florida Panthers for the last time of the season. The Lightning left the cats thunderstruck by a 6-3 win. Marty St. Louis had his 5th career hat trick, his first since 2006. Ryan Shannon had his best game since wearing Bolt Blue. We even got to witness a feline temper tantrum in the litter… I mean penalty box. (I tried to find a video clip of this but I can’t seem to, but if you click on the link, it is pretty darn close.) It was seriously the most entertaining game that I have been to in a long, long time! Continue reading for a full recap of the game and Marty’s magical night. Please take a moment to click on the links. Some are stats, others are videos fitting to the situation.
The Lightning came out fiery and full of force from beginning to end. They defended their home ice like true warriors. The video that is played at the intro to the games comes to mind. For those of you who are not able to attend the game: Picture the anticipation of the game, thousands of screaming fans. Mr. Ray starts to play the pipe organ, the pipes light up the arena with the words Tampa Bay Lightning. Suddenly, all goes quiet and the lights go out, leaving only streams of soft glows from the seat lights in the isles. One the panels of digital display that wrap around each level, lightning flashes and clouds gather as the overwhelming sound of thunder clashes.
This video plays:
Then the song Thunderstruck by AC/DC blasts through the sound system, accompanied by strobe lights and images of lightning bolts flashing on the ice. The Bolt Brigade come skating out with the ‘dream kid’ of the night, a child in local youth hockey who gets his chance to skate on the big boy’s ice and stand with his hockey idols during the National Anthems. (I say anthems as plural for when Canadian teams visit.) The child skates around, and ends up in the middle with lights flashing on him, lightning bolts all around, raising his stick to THUNDER! THUNDER!! -then the tesla coils fire up the real lightning bolts and the buzzing can be heard throughout the arena. The team’s starting line up is announced as they skate onto the ice.
The scoring opened up immediately when Nate Thompson made a huge block, then turned a wrist shot into an unassisted goal at 1:37. At 3:54 Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann answered the goal with wrist shot, assisted by Kris Versteeg and Mike Weaver. Tampa got their first Power Play chance when Stephen Weiss went out for 2 minutes for tripping. Though they played consistently good throughout the game, they still couldn’t capitalize on it. Steve Downie had his first turn in the penalty box, 2 minutes for hooking, at 18:24. The defense did a great job of the penalty kill, and Mathieu Garon was still on his game. Tampa out ranked Florida 9-7 on shots on goal.
The second period was the best period for the Lightning, as it has been all season. The most goals have been scored in the second period, 52. (Only 31 goals have been scored in the first and 51 in the third.) At 1:42 a snap shot by team captain Vinny Lecavalier resulted in an unassisted goal. Marty St. Louis scored his first goal of the night at 4:22, assisted by Ryan Shannon and Vinny Lecavalier, giving the Bolts a 3-1 lead. at 7:06 a wrist shot by Mikael Samuelsson, assisted by former Lightning Sean Bergenheim, brought the Panthers up to a one goal deficit. The Stammer Hammer came down at 12:36, wrist shot by Steven Stamkos, assisted by Steve Downie and Victor Hedman. This was Stamkos’ 34th goal of the season. He leads the league in home goals (20) and home points (35). He ranks third overall in the league in points with 57, only 3 back of leader Evgeni Malkin. At 15:08 Marty St. Louis struck again, assisted again by Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Shannon. This was Ryan Shannon’s first multi-point game of his Lightning career. With his speed and accuracy, he is quite an asset to the team. Just before the buzzer sounded to end the second period at 19:14 Sean Bergenheim scored with assists by Marcel Goc and Tyson Strachan. A classless act on the part of Lightning fans was shown when they booed Sean so loudly that it was hard to hear announcer Paul Porter announce the goal. Many players will come and go on the team, but this goes to show just how loved Bergie was when he played for the Lightning. Most fans felt betrayed when he made the decision to go to Florida. To come back and score on Tampa’s ice is just insult to injury in their eyes. There were no penalties in the second period. Shots on goal were the Lightning 17, Florida 7.
For the first time this season a goalie change was made because of Tampa’s offensive play. The third period started with Brian Foster in net for Florida, who made his NHL debut with almost five minutes of ice time, instead of Scott Clemmenson. It was a period of penalties and little scoring as Victor Hedman took the first 2 minutes for hooking at 4:22. The crowed cheered as if Tampa scored when Sean Bergenheim had to sit out for 2 minutes for hooking at 8:10. At 8:20 The Lightning had another successful penalty kill when Tom Pyatt served a 2 minute sentence for hooking. I can imagine the coaches will be reviewing the videos and having talks with some players as all of the penalties were stick penalties. Coach Boucher calls stick penalties lazy penalties. They are definitely avoidable. It wasn’t a full 2 minute penalty kill as it went to a brief four on four Kris Versteeg went off for 2 minutes tripping. He showed a ridiculous display of immaturity when he threw himself down on the bench in the penalty box and starting throwing stuff down. He was obviously angry, and he threw a better temper tantrum than my son when he was two years old. This is an athlete that young men look up to? Or is the the other way around? Perhaps he looks down to them as mentors. That would explain the childish fit. Great Character was shown on Steven Stamkos‘ part as he had the opportunity to raise his lead in goal points with an empty netter. The goal was wide open and the opportunity was there. Instead he made the most unselfish move that I have ever witnessed on the ice. He passed the puck to Marty St. Louis, who shot it in at 19:39, and emotion swept the Tampa Bay Times forum as his 5th career hat trick on his 900th game was celebrated. Hats were flying, hands were clapping, fans were screaming, tears were flowing… this was Marty’s first hat trick since October 26, 2006 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Marty now has the longest point streak of the season on the team, even with the games that he missed when he was injured. The streak is 9 games, with 6 goals and 10 assists. The longest streak for Marty recorded is 13 games from February 5, 2004 to March 3, 2004. He has had 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) over his past 19 games. He is truly Iron Man Marty. The third period shots on goal were 8-6, again in favor of Tampa Bay, for a total of 20-34. Here is Marty’s pre-game and post-game interview with his mini-Marties, (His 3 sons) , and highlights of the hat trick goals.
Mathieu Garon made 17 saves out of 20 shots. His goal tending has been improving and he making some amazing saves. Scott Clemmensen had 21 saves of 26 shots. He saved 6 out of 6 power play shots, for a total of 27 saves of 32 shots in 53 minutes and 18 seconds of ice time. Brian Foster had 1 save of 1 shot in his 4 minute and 52 second NHL debut. Technically he can say that his debut time was a shut out! You can watch the full highlights on Lightning.NHL.com. The Lightning are now 23-23-5, the Panthers are 24-16-11. The Lightning set a franchise record with 9 points against Florida in a season. They close out the series 4-1-1. They also had a season high 6 goals in a single game. They are 8-0-1 when scoring 5-or-more goals in a game, and 12-3-3 when letting only 3-or-fewer goals in a game. They have gained points in the standings in all of their past 7 games (6-0-1) as with the loss in over time, they still gained a point. Let’s keep this streak going, boys! We’ll arriving early to get our lucky parking spot and standing on the East side of the building about 4:00pm with encouragement signs again. We were called the team’s “Lucky Charms” because they have yet to lose a game that we’ve been out there showing them support as they drive in. Our presence was requested for every home game from here on out. You know how superstitious those hockey players can be! If you’re able to come early and are interested in joining us to wave a flag or make an encouraging sign, you can find out more information by emailing me at [email protected]
Disclaimer: Though I joked about ‘kitty cats’ and animal cruelty, animal cruelty is no laughing matter. Know that no actual animals were harmed in the game or the making of this article, unless you consider the Panther’s egos.
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Dolly Reynolds Dolce