Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning got the New Year started off early. On the very first day of the New Year, the Lightning rookies would lead the charge as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.
In regards to the scoring aspect, tonight’s game started out pretty darn slow. Through the first 20 minutes of play, neither team was able to make the first tally on the board. However, the Bolts played the first 20 minutes with a lot of energy; something they were drastically missing in the early minutes of the last game.
In a strange turn of events, the Lightning made a miraculous surge in the second period. Throughout the course of the season people have referred to the Lightning as a lot of things; however, second period team has definitely not been one of them.
The Lightning would ultimately outshoot the Canucks 14-9 during the second period of play.
However, it would be the Canucks that would get on the board first. Just over halfway through the period, at 11:25, center Brad Richardson would get a wrist shot past Bishop with the assist going to left wing Chris Higgins.
It would be center Valtteri Filppula who would net the first goal for the Bolts. At 15:27, with the assist from Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn, Filppula would net his 15th goal of the season. Right now, Filppula is only 2 goals away from catching Martin St. Louis, who is currently leading the team in goals, and pretty much everything else scoring related.
Just like lightning (see what I did there,) the Bolts would light the lamps once again. This time, it would be at the hands of Lightning center Tyler Johnson. The assists on the Johnson goal would go to left wing Ondrej Palat and defenseman Mark Barberio.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, the Canucks would respond with the same urgency. At 16:01, just 14 seconds after the Johnson goal, Canucks center Zac Dalpe would fire a wrist shot past Bishop with the assist of right wing Dale Weise and left wing Tom Sesito.
However, as defenseman Yannick Weber sat in the box for two minutes for dumping Tyler Johnson in front of the Vancouver net, Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov would fire a slapshot, and with just 2.6 seconds left in the period, would give the Lightning the lead once again.
This speaks volumes about the Lightning’s performance tonight. Considering that the Canucks have the best Penalty Kill squad in the National Hockey League, the fact that the Bolts were able to capitalize on the Power Play opportunity is truly something special.
In the third period, the Lightning would keep the same momentum from the second period rolling.
At 7:28, Killorn would deflect a shot from defenseman Victor Hedman that would find the back of the net. The secondary assist on the Killorn goal would go to Filppula. This was both Killorn and Filppula’s second point of the night.
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Canucks would pull goaltender Eddie Lack in favor of getting an extra skater on the ice. Fortunately for the Bolts, Bishop would hold strong and the Lightning would prevail.
The rookies were on fire tonight. Johnson, Palat, Kucherov, Barberio, and defenseman Radko Gudas would all register points in tonight’s encounter.
At the sound of the final buzzer, the Lightning would outshoot the Canucks 33-30; however, it is the Canucks that would dominate the Faceoff Circle, winning 35-28.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, whose name was surprisingly left off of the Team USA Roster heading to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, blocked 28 of the 30 shots he faced tonight from the Canucks, giving him his 21st win of the season. He had a Save Percentage of .933 tonight.
If there was any downside to tonight’s game, in which you have to look really hard to see, the Lightning was a little light on the hits tonight. The Canucks were credited with 19 hits while the Lightning would only accrue 9.
In any case, tonight is the perfect example of what I meant when I talked about shaking off the rust, getting away from the old habits, and focusing on the game at hand.
This is the kind of play I want to see from the Lightning for the remainder of the season. Tonight was rally a whole team effort. All of the moving pieces worked together as one to get the job done, and they were driving the rebounds in an attempt to find the net.
If they keep things the way they are playing right now, we will still be playing when late April rolls around.
Three Stars of the Game:
What did you think of tonight’s performance? Do you think the Three Stars accurately describe the events of the night? If not, who do you think should have got the nod? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.