The Tampa Bay Lightning took this game by storm, scoring their first goal just 41 seconds into the first period; however, after a controversial call against Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas and Head Coach Jon Cooper and unexplained breakdown in the third period, the Bolts found themselves tied 3-3 at the end of regulation.
However, goaltender Anders Lindback was able to hold strong in the Shootout and backstopped the Lightning to a 4-3 win over the in-state rival Florida Panthers in overtime.
As I said before the Lightning came out strong very early in tonight’s game. Just 41 seconds into the game, our Warrior Captain Martin St. Louis opened up the scoring with assists from center Steven Stamkos and left wing Ryan Malone.
Just under 4 minutes later, it would be Steven Stamkos who would strike next with a goal on Markstrom. Malone picked up his second assist of the night on the Stamkos goal, along with the first assist of the night for defenseman Matt Carle.
The Bolts would start the second period on the Penalty Kill as Richard Panik sat in the box for 2 minutes for Boarding defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Thankfully for the Bolts, the Panthers would not be able to capitalize on the Power Play.
At 12:51, chaos would ensue. Gudas would come down the ice in pursuit of the play, losing his balance and go crashing into the boards. While he was down on the ice, I believe it was Scottie Upshall who sprayed Gudas with water from his bottle. As any person would be for something so absolutely childish, Gudas was pretty ticked off. So, in retaliation, Gudas slammed his stick on the boards, breaking it in two.
Of course, that is the only part of the entire exchange that the referee saw. So, in return Gudas was ushered off of the ice with a 2 minute minor penalty for Slashing and a 10 minute Misconduct penalty. After watching the replay, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper voiced his displeasure at the missed call. Unfortunately for Gudas, this brought on a Game Misconduct as well. In one big swoop, Gudas amassed another 22 minutes in penalties and an ejection from the game.
This left the Lightning with just 5 defensemen to pick up the slack for the next period and a half of play.
That started to take a toll on the Lightning in the 3rd period.
Starting at just over 5 minutes into the third period, the Panthers would bring this to a one goal game with a goal from center Nick Bjugstad, the man that Gudas was accused of Slashing, with the assists from defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, and ironically enough…the player that sprayed Gudas with the water bottle, Scottie Upshall.
Just over 3 minutes later, at 8:51 in the period, Brad Boyes would net an unassisted goal. Now, the game would be all tied up at 3.
When the buzzer sounded on regulation, the score would remain tied at 3. Throughout the 5 minutes of Overtime, neither team were able to capitalize on their opportunity. Therefore, this game would head to a Shootout.
Understandably, Bolts fans held their breaths as Lindback had yet to find himself a win so far in the season.
First up in the shootout was Lightning center Valtteri Filppula. We may as well start referring to Filppula as Mister Clutch. His wrist shot flew past Markstrom and brought the Bolts ahead in the shootout.
Lindback was able to fend off a backhand shot from last year’s Panthers star rookie Jonathan Huberdeau. The next 3 shots would be blocked as well. Markstrom would fend off shots from Lightning defensemen Victor Hedman and Sami Salo. Lindback would hold off a shot from Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov.
Finally, the Panthers would get one in with a wristshot from center Brad Boyes would tie everything back up.
Next up for the Lightning was center Steven Stamkos. Stamkos fired off a wristshot from 15 feet that soared past Markstrom putting the Lightning back on top.
Finally, Lindback’s defining moment would come. Would Lindback hold on and earn his first win so far this season, or would the Panthers send this shootout to even more rounds?
Thankfully for the Lightning, Lindback would hold on. With a save by Lindback on Kulikov, the Tampa Bay Lightning would extend their win streak to 3, defeating the in-state rival Florida Panthers.
There are both positive and negative things to come out of tonight’s game. Obviously, the biggest positive was the win. However, not far behind that is the Lightning’s increased effort on the rebound. This is something that I have said the Lightning needed to work on for a long time.
However, on the flip side, the Lightning was outshot by the Panthers 32-28. This is a far cry from the 39 Shots on Goal that the Lightning had on Saturday night against the Sabres.
I guess what Captain Martin St. Louis said was true.
“The good teams always find a way to win.”
While this game was far from perfection, the Bolts fought back in the face of adversity and were able to win 4-3. While it may have been in OT, and the Panthers got at least 1 point for the encounter, the Lightning still got their two points.
Three Stars of the Game
Now, I know that it is way too early in the season to be getting all giddy about the standings; however, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point this little gem out to everyone in the Bolts Nation.
If this doesn’t give you a feeling of pure happiness, then I don’t know what will.
The Lightning have made great strides in the course of one offseason. One can only hope that they can sustain this same level of success going forward this season.
Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning continue their road trip as they head to Prudential Center in New Jersey to go head-to-head with Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. After that, they head off to the PNC Arena in Raleigh for a Divisional Matchup with Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes.
What do you think the Bolts are going to have to do to continue their momentum? What should the Bolts concentrate on when they head into Jersey? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.