Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

14. Chris Kontos Scores Four Goals In Tampa Bay Lightning’s Inaugural Game

Date: October 7, 1992

The National Hockey League underwent a lot of changes prior to the start of the 1992-93 season. On December 6, 1990, then-NHL President John Ziegler announced that the National Hockey League was awarding a conditional franchise to Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and the Tampa Bay Hockey Group.

A few weeks, and $50 million later, the National Hockey League Board of Governors would vote to turn that conditional franchise into a new team that would be forever known as the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is where things would get really interesting for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the people here in the Sunshine State.

On October 7, 1990, the Tampa Bay Lightning would take the ice for the very first time as an official franchise of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning would call the hallowed halls of the Expo Hall – otherwise known as “the barn” – at the Florida State Fairgrounds their home for their first season in the NHL.

Phil Esposito and his team had to face a number of challenges in order to get the franchise off the ground, but the task that laid in front of the team taking the ice on the fateful day would seem much more difficult than kick starting a new franchise. The Bolts would come face to face with one of the “Original Six” teams in the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks.

After facing opposition from their detractors from the word go, the Tampa Bay Lightning would soon prove that not only did they have what it takes to compete in the National Hockey League, but they had what it takes to compete at the highest level in the game.

There is one player who would stand out above the rest in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s inaugural game. That player was named Chris Kontos. Chris Kontos was the player who scored the first-ever Tampa Bay Lightning goal. Little did hockey fans here in the Tampa Bay area know, this would not be the only time on that amazing October night Chris Kontos would find the back of the net.

Being completely honest, it was a beautiful goal that was perfectly engineered between Lightning left wing Rob Zamuner and center Chris Kontos.

Not long after his first goal hit the back of the net, Kontos would be at it once again making Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour work for his money. Once again on the Power Play, Kontos would plant himself in front of the net, just off the glove side of Belfour. Right wing John Tucker would get his stick on the puck and see a wide open Kontos just waiting for his moment.

Tucker would pass the puck to Kontos and before Belfour had any idea what was going on, the puck was in the back of the net and the Tampa Bay Lightning would pull ahead 2-0; both goals being scored on a Lightning Power Play. As crazy as it sounds, we almost feel like the present-day Lightning should re-watch this game and take notes on how to score on the Power Play.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were already up on the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 when a certain player would Kick Ice once again. The more and more we watch footage from this game, the more obvious it becomes that Chris Kontos felt right at home in front of the net. As you can imagine, this is right where he would be when his third goal of the night would find its way past Belfour and into the net to put the Lightning up 6-1 over the Hawks.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock in the second period of play, the Tampa Bay Lightning were up on the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the Lightning were not quite done with them. The Lightning would play the puck in the offensive zone when defenseman Joe Reekie would shoot the puck up the ice and just wide of the net.

Just when you thought the shot would miss the mark, Kontos was ready and waiting on Belfour’s stick side. Kontos took control of the puck, and sent it top side over the glove side shoulder of Belfour for his fourth goal of the night.

Over the course of the season, Kontos would play in 66 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that amount of time, Kontos would net a career-high 27 goals and 24 assists for a total of 51 points. Unfortunately, this would be the final season Kontos would play in the National Hockey League.

After playing for the Canadian National Team in the 1993-94 season and helping his native Canada capture the Silver Medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, Kontos would play for quite a few teams in the IHL before heading to the Revier Lowen Oberhausen in Germany for one final season before deciding to hang up his skates forever.

While the Tampa Bay Lightning may have been Chris Kontos’ last stop in his NHL career, there is no doubting it is the most memorable. Kontos gave Tampa Bay Lightning fans an experience they will never forget and helped lay the foundation for many successful Lightning seasons to come.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Play First-Ever Game At Expo Hall