We are now through 40 minutes of play at the First Niagara Center as our Tampa Bay Lightning face off with fellow Atlantic Division team, the Buffalo Sabres. Here are some of our reactions to the second period of play.
The Lightning were on the Power Play at the beginning of this period; however, they were unable to capitalize on the man advantage. At the conclusion of that penalty, the Bolts find themselves 0-2 on the PP tonight this far.
Just as I was able to start to tell you about how uneventful this period has been, it seems the tide has shifted.
The Sabres were able to draw first blood in the game while on the power play as Buffalo center Cody Hodgson was able to get the puck past a downed Ben Bishop, and put the Sabres on top for the first time tonight.
Not even thirty seconds later, the gloves would drop for the third time this evening. This time, it was Lightning left wing Ryan Malone and Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. As usual, both were rewarded for their efforts with a 5 minute Fighting major each.
Just over 2 minutes after the penalty to both men, Tyler Johnson is able to make his way down the ice and fire a wrist shot past Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth tying the score at 1-1 with the assists from Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat.
After the goal from Johnson, the Sabres would find themselves with back-to-back power play opportunities. The first came at 14:47 when Radko Gudas was sent to the box for 2 minutes for Roughing Steve Ott. The Sabres were unable to capitalize on this opportunity.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, the second opportunity is not quite the same story.
At 17:11, Lightning defensemen Eric Brewer is sent to the box for 2 minutes for Hooking. During this time, Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain was able to fire a wrist shot past Bishop with the assists from Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek.
This would put the Sabres back on top for the second time tonight.
There are a few things that I have taken away from this period of play.
First and foremost, the Lightning have simply got to get these silly penalties under control. I can understand some of the fights, as players are standing up for either themselves or one of their teammates, but the Hooking, Interference, and such…those have no meaning, and give the other team opportunity after opportunity with the man advantage.
Secondly, the Lightning need to put some time in one their Power Play squad. The Bolts used to have one of the most dominate teams on the power play; however, that has slowly dissipated over the last few seasons. I would really like to see them get back on top of that and really become a force with the man advantage.
However, while it may seem all doom and gloom being down 2-1 at this point, there is a positive that can be taken away from this game thus far.
The Lightning are maintaining pace with Shots on Goal. Through 40 minutes of play, the Lightning have outshot the Sabres 20-10. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they have outshot them by a 2:1 ratio. Now, if we can just stop overpassing the puck, and putting ourselves in a good position in front of the net, we may be able to maximize our potential going into the third period.
While there is a portion of me that wants to start to panic and worry that the Bolts are going to walk away from this game with a loss, I have learned something from the Blackhawks game. The game is never over until that final buzzer sounds, and even then…there is still a chance.
The moral of the story is: Never, ever give up, and always Be The Thunder.
I have faith that our boys in blue can storm the ice in the third period and get back on top. All it takes is a little teamwork.
What are your takeaways from the second period of play? Did your observations match mine? If not, what do you think the Bolts are going to have to do to get back on top. Let’s discuss this and more in the comments below.
Check back with us after the third period for our initial reactions to the third period, and the recap of tonight’s events.