Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning opened the doors to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Edmonton Oilers. Another stellar performance from Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop led the Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the Oilers.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos was on fire tonight. He struck first blood tonight with a unassisted goal at 7:37 in the first period.
However, with just 53 seconds left in the first period, Steven Stamkos was able to put the Bolts back on top with a wraparound goal.
At the conclusion of the first period, the Bolts would lead the Oilers 2-1.
The second period was fairly quiet, both with goals and penalties. It would be the young bloods that would shine in the second frame. The lone goal in the second period was from Lightning center Tyler Johnson at 18:33. The assists on the Johnson goal would be attributed to right wing Richard Panik and defenseman Radko Gudas.
The Oilers would attempt to mount a comeback in the third with a goal from left wing Taylor Hall just over halfway through the third period with the assist from Eberle.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, Lightning center Valtteri Filppula would put the final nail in the proverbial coffin with an empty net goal with just 1:04 left in the game.
I can’t say that the Oilers outplayed the Lightning, because the score sheet obviously proves that to be false; however, they had the Bolts dead to rights in Shots on Goal. The Bolts were outshot in every period, with a total of 40-26.
The Oilers has our number in the faceoff circle as well; thankfully, not by as large of a margin as the Shots on Goal. The Faceoffs won were 26-21 Edmonton.
This game came down to 2 things. The first of which is the Lightning’s ability to capitalize. As many of you who have read my articles in the past know that I am a huge proponent of the theory of quality over quantity. While 26 shots is slightly under what I would consider to be average, the Lightning were able to capitalize on their opportunities and come out on top.
However, absolutely no one can argue with me when I say that the Bolts won this game because of the spectacular performance by Ben Bishop. Bishop stopped 38 of the 40 shots that were brought against him for a Save Percentage of .950.
Here is one of Bishop’s best saves of the night. Bishop has to jump, yes…at 6’7” Big Ben had to jump, to catch a puck with his shoulder. His acrobatics caused him to lose his helmet in the process. Take a look for yourself.
The other Bolt that is sitting in multiple top 10 lists is Stamkos. He is currently one point behind Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the NHL points race and 1 goal behind Blues LW Alexander Steen in goals.
While a few players did struggle in tonight’s game, all-in-all it was a solid effort from the team.
Tonight’s win brings the Lightning’s winning streak to three giving them 22 points, setting them in first place in the Eastern Conference.
I know that we are still really early in the season, and that numbers at this stage in the game are like the water in a raging river, and ever changing; however, it never hurts to be on top.
If the Lightning can keep playing the way they have been playing so far this season, they should have no issue extending their schedule beyond April.
Three Stars of the Game:
Next up for the Tampa Bay Lightning, they head out on the road for a 4-game road trip starting on Saturday at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit as they go head-to-head with the Detroit Red Wings.
What do you think of the Lightning’s performance tonight? What do you think has been working for the team, and what do you think they still need to work on? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think!