In the words of Porky Pig, “That’s all folks!” The end of the Tampa Bay Lightning home opener has come and the Bolts come away with a win. The Lightning came out of the gate strong and used every last bit of home ice to their advantage. The crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum was loud, the building was electric, and there was a huge difference in the gameplay of the Lightning.
As soon as the puck touched the ice in the first period, Tampa Bay did everything they could to gain control of it. Big hits by the likes of B.J. Crombeen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were occurring all over the ice and that really gave the Bolts the spark they needed. The first line of Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone pushed the puck up the ice aggressively and did a fantastic job of scoring the game’s first two goals, the first by Marty at 8:13 and the second a shorthanded goal by Stammers at 13:54. That gave Tampa the early 2-0 edge heading into the second period.
This up-tempo style of play didn’t end when the period ended. The Lightning came out after the intermission and started the second period with the same intensity that they finished off the first period with. Brad Boyes of the Panthers scored a quick power play goal just .59 seconds into the period to put Florida on the board but Tampa wouldn’t stay quiet for long. Stamkos added on his second goal of the night at 11:39 to bring the Bolts’ lead to 3-1 and Ondrej Palat tacked on another goal at 15:51 to make it 4-1. By the end of the second, the Lightning were leading the game 4-1 and led in shots 19-14.
At this point, the crowd has been going nuts for two straight periods and they didn’t get any quieter during the third period. Coming into the third with a 4-1 lead, the Lightning were relentless with their attack. They continued to play hard hockey and push the puck up the ice at a pace that had the Panthers winded. Three minutes and forty-eight seconds into the period, Florida used what small breath of life they had left in them to score a goal to bring the score to 4-2. However, the Lightning offense did not stop. I repeat: DID. NOT. STOP. Valtteri Filppula answered back with a pair of his own goals at 6:38 and 9:14, respectively. This put the score at 6-2, giving the fans even more of a reason to cheer. Not but three minutes later at 12:25, Stammers scored his third goal of the season….and the game! It was hat trick time in Tampa Bay as the Lightning lead Florida 7-2.
When it was all said and done, the Lightning came out victorious by a huge margin. Stamkos received the first star award, second star went to Filppula, and third star of the game went to Marty. This was a relatively easy win for the Lightning and will look to keep the momentum that they gained and use it Saturday as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stay tuned here on Bolts By The Bay for the latest Tampa Bay Lightning news and opinions!