It all started with the home opener against the Washington Capitals on January 19th. A strong first period saw 2 Lightning goals; one by Eric Brewer, and the other by Vincent Lecavalier. There was only one Capital goal during this period. However, the second period was the exact opposite.
Not even two minutes into the period, Joel Ward nets one for the Capitals. At 5:11 Martin St. Louis answered with a goal off of a power play; however, at 18:15 Wojtek Wolski, the person responsible for the penalty allowing Marty to score struck back with a goal of his own, evening the score at 3-3.
In the third period, it was all about the Lightning. Another power play goal by St. Louis at 4:57, Cory Conacher netted his first ever NHL goal at 13:24, and Eric Brewer scored another power play goal at 16:42. At the end of the game, the Lightning were victorious 6-1 over the Capitals.
However, in the next outing, the first road game of the year, the Lightning’s third period surge didn’t prove to be enough to defeat the New York Islanders.
With the first period deadlocked at zero, the second period was all about the Islanders. Penalty after penalty against the Lightning opened the door for the Islanders to unleash 3 unanswered goals against them. The first of those goals was on a tip in from the Isles’ Michael Grabner during a tripping penalty to the Lightning’s Cory Conacher. As the goal went into the net, the Lightning were assessed another penalty, this time to Eric Brewer for tripping, therefore extending the Isles’ power play for another 2 minutes. Almost one right after the other, the Isles were able to net 2 more; one at 16:23 from Matt Martin, and the other from Kyle Okposo at 17:31.
With the exception of a goal from the Isles’ David Ullstrom at 1:31, the Lightning surged back in the third period. At 2:22 Martin St. Louis netted one past Nabokov with the assist from Stamkos and Conacher. Then at 7:26 Benoit Pouliot shot one in off of assists from B.J. Crombeen and Adam Hall. Less than one minute later, Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the season at 8:00. Unfortunately, when time expired, the Lightning were unable to score again, and suffered their first road loss of the season.
In the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on the 22nd, the Lightning started off the first period with a bang, with goals from Tom Pyatt, and Cory Conacher. However, the second period was all about the penalties. With two minute boarding calls to both Cory Conacher and Ryan Malone consecutively. This opened the door for the Canes’ Jeff Skinner to net one past Mathieu Garon.
But as usual, the Lightning surged back in the third with goals from Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone. When the time on the clock ran out, the Lightning were again victorious with a score of 4-1.
The formula remained the same in the game against the Ottawa Senators on January 25th. The one loan goal in the first period was from Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle; then came the dreaded second period. The first goal came at 4:11 when Erik Condra netted a wrist shot with assists from Chris Neil and Sergei Gonchar. Then, only 15 seconds apart, the Sens scored 2 goals; one on a power play from Jason Spezza at 14:30, and the other from Erik Karlsson at 14:45. Fifteen seconds later, the Lightning answered with a backhanded goal from Steven Stamkos. A couple of minutes later, the goal was answered with a wrist shot by Kyle Turris. Thankfully, less than a minute later, the Lightning were able to respond with a slap shot from Victor Hedman making the score 4-3 Ottawa.
Sticking to the formula, the Lightning struck hard in the third period with three unanswered goals. Two from Ryan Malone, and then at 19:18 an empty netter from Tom Pyatt sealed the deal as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the previously undefeated Ottawa Senators.
This formula has stayed tried and true all month long. That is, until the Philadelphia Flyers came into town.
After defeating the Florida Panthers 7-1 the night before, the Flyers seemed poised for a repeat. Only 59 seconds into the first period, the Flyers scored off of a wrist shot from Sean Couturier. However, after the Captain tied up with Luke Schenn at 5:09 in the first, the momentum seemed to shift. With an endless string of penalties against Philly, most of them by Wayne Simmonds, the Lightning seemed to strike over and over again. The first period saw a power play goal from Teddy Purcell at 14:34 while Simmonds was serving 2 minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, a slap shot from Eric Brewer at 16:10, and another power play goal, this time from Lecavalier, while Mike Knuble was in the box for 2 minutes from Tripping.
While there were no goals scored during the second period, the Lightning certainly played a solid game. The penalty kill was on point during the two power play opportunities that the Flyers had that period, Anders Lindback was able to ward off 11 shots during the period, which was the highest in one period from the Flyers that game, and other than two 2 minute penalties for Cross Checking (one by Brewer, and the other by Stamkos,) the Lightning were able to stay out of the box. This completely broke the formula that has haunted the Lightning since the start of the season.
The third period; however, did stick to formula. Three penalties against the Flyers, including a 10 minute misconduct against Simmonds, would give the offense ample time to keep the pressure on the Flyers. This allowed 2 more goals; one by Victor Hedman, and the other from Steven Stamkos. This brought the game to a close, as the Lightning shut down the Flyers with a score of 5-1.
I am sure that every Bolts fan can agree, I hope this is a formula that we do not see again this season. The Lightning have shown us that they are capable of playing a solid game for 60 minutes without falling to pieces in the second, and then bringing out the broom to pick up those pieces in the third.
With that win over the Flyers, the Lightning have soared into first place in the Southeast Division, and number two in the Eastern Conference. Great things happen when Lightning Strikes. All that is left for us to do is Be The Thunder. Stay on this track, and we may hold the cup high once again.