Things just keep getting better and better for the Bolts! Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Overtime.
Anyone who says that the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t play aggressively on offense clearly did not watch the same game that I did. The Lightning set a season high record of 50 shots on goal tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Yes…don’t adjust your eyes. I did indeed say 5-0 shots on goal.
The game didn’t quite start out according to plan for the Lightning. At 4:35 in the first period, a goal from Hurricanes left wing Jiri Tlusty would put the Canes on the board first. However, it wasn’t all that long before the Bolts would battle back.
At 16:12 in the period, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would get the Bolts on the board and tie the game at one.
In the second period, the Hurricanes would take it to the Lightning. At 10:11 in the period, Tlusty would score his second goal of the game, this time Shorthanded.
The Bolts, quite obviously, were not happy about this.
The Lightning thought that they had the tying goal at 18:56 in the period when Valtteri Filppula fired a shot on the net; however, after a review from Hockey Operations in Toronto, they deemed that the puck never fully crossed the line, and was therefore deemed a non-goal.
The Lightning would head into the third period on the penalty kill, as defenseman Radko Gudas still have just under a minute left on his Interference call. Thankfully, the Lightning were able to effectively kill the penalty.
At 6:49 in the third, Hurricanes center Jordan Staal was sent to the box for 2 minutes for Tripping Lightning center Tyler Johnson. It is this Power Play opportunity that would open the door for the Lightning.
In fact, the Lightning walked through the door and slammed it behind them. At 7:56 Lightning Captain Martin St. Louis would redirect a shot from Hedman that would find its way past Canes goaltender Justin Peters, tying the game at 2-2.
For the remainder of the period, there would be a lot of back and forth between the two teams, but neither side would be able to seal the deal in regulation.
Bolts fans sat on the edge of their seats waiting for the puck to drop in overtime. The Canes would create a number of good scoring chances, but each of them were shot down, either by the Lightning defense, or by “Big” Ben Bishop.
Just under halfway through the overtime period, the horn would sound, the sticks would raise, and Lightning fans would jump from their seats as Radko Gudas found the back of the net, giving the Lightning the win in Overtime.
The Bolts are very familiar with extra frames this season. Five of their last eight games have ended after extra time. In three of the five have ended favorably for the Bolts.
The Bolts recorded a season-high number of Shots on Goal in this game with 50. After the game tonight, Coach Cooper spoke about his feelings on tonight’s offensive game.
“I would rather get the fifty and ultimately look and see that the goalie flat out beat us instead of sitting here saying ‘we just beat ourselves.’” Cooper said. “This is going to happen. This is the National Hockey League. I have to tip my hat to that kid. I’ve coached against him in the American League, and he was a pain in the butt then, and he’s become a pain in the butt in the NHL. He was outstanding tonight.”
Of course, Coach Cooper is speaking of Hurricanes netminder Justin Peters, who even though his team got the loss tonight, was able to block 47 of 50 shots brought against him tonight by the Lightning, giving him a Save Percentage of .940, which is still pretty respectable given the circumstances.
“Sometimes, the goaltender is the best player on the ice, and he was tonight. Fortunately for us, we got the extra one by him.” Cooper said about Peters.
Early on in the season, the Lightning was leaning heavily on the defense and the goaltender to win the game for them. In the last couple of games, the Bolts have shown us that sometimes the best defense is a solid offense. If the other team can’t get possession of the puck, then they can’t score goals. It really is that simple.
The irony in all of this is that a good number of the Lightning’s shots on goal tonight came from defensemen. Twenty two of the Lightning’s fifty shots came at the hands of the defensemen.
We are slowly approaching the halfway point in the season. Our game against the Calgary Flames on January 3rd will mark the official halfway point for the Lightning this season.
Seeing how much the team has improved in these last few games, and the aggressive offensive stance that they have been able to take as of late has given me a kind of hope inside that this team has what it takes to win the race. As a good friend reminded me earlier tonight, hockey is a marathon, not a sprint. Both wins and losses are going to come our way; however, it is what we take away from those that is going to make or break us going forward.
I think it is safe to say that the Lightning are willing and able to fight until the very end to come out on top with the points. If they continue to play with the same tenacity, do not be surprised if you see them as an early candidate for the post season.
Three Stars of the Game:
Next up for the Lightning, they travel to Sunrise to go head-to-head with our in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, on Monday, December 23rd at the BB&T Center.
What did you take away from tonight’s game? What do you think the Lightning need to do in order to keep the momentum moving our way in Sunrise on Monday against the Panthers? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.