The Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off the 2016-17 regular season with a win over its Atlantic Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. It was definitely a wild one.
In a thrilling game before a sold out crowd at Amalie Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning opened the regular season with a 6-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The team has now won three straight season openers, all at home, and seven of the last eight, dating all the way back to the 2010-11 season.
Though the finish wasn’t nearly as exciting as last season’s home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers, tonight’s game was thrilling, nonetheless, and the fans left with something to be happy about, especially after the shaky start in the first period.
There were many positives to take away from the first win of the season and surprisingly enough, the Power Play was one of them. After struggling mightily on the man advantage last season, the Lightning went three-for-six on the night and rallied in the third period with two power play goals to take the lead over the Red Wings.
In addition, and keeping with the special teams side of things, the Penalty Kill did what it needed to do and overall, the team limited the Red Wings to only two opportunities on the man advantage. Last season, the Lightning
Last season, the Lightning finished in the top-10 on the PK, so hopefully that trend continues further into this season.
As we know, the Tampa Bay Lightning had trouble finding the back of the net during the first half of the 2015-16 campaign, but after breaking out with six goals tonight, all looks well only one game in. The team attempted 74 shots on goal tonight, 27 more than Detroit had, and peppered goaltender
The team attempted 74 shots on goal tonight, 27 more than Detroit had, and peppered goaltender Petr Mrazek all night with 36 shots on goal. If not for some of his dazzling saves early on, the score might have been a bit higher.
Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s take a who scored and made a difference in each period during tonight’s regular season opener.
The first period started off a bit slow for the Lightning and as many fans can agree, they looked sloppy and lethargic, some of their passes were off, and the turnovers were a bit of an issue. Overall, it was a period to forget and luckily for the Lightning, they went into the first intermission only down 2-0.
However, if not for Mrazek, the Lightning could have had a lead after the first period, especially with the opportunities they had on the Power Play.
After stealing the puck from Nesterov, Nyquist backhanded a pass to a streaking Vanek, who put the puck past Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop‘s glove-side, and that goal gave the Wings a 2-0 lead with 11:34 to go in the first period. It was also Vanek’s second goal of the night in his Red Wings debut.
Prior to that goal, Vanek got control of the puck after a scramble in front of the Lightning net and knocked it in off a rebound to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead on the power play. It was not the way Tampa Bay wanted to start the game, but that goal would prove not to be the be-all and end-all for them.
The first period came to a close and the Lightning headed into the locker room down 2-0. Remember, they usually aren’t a great first-period team, especially in recent memory.
As for the second period, Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin opened the scoring for Tampa Bay after ripping a shot over Mrazek’s shoulder on the power play. He took a cross-crease pass from Lightning defenseman, Victor Hedman, that ricocheted off the boards and after retrieving the puck, Drouin fired off a shot and cut Detroit’s lead in half.
Prior to the play, Ben Bishop flung the puck up the ice to Drouin, who was waiting at the far blue line, and started what would lead up to the first goal of the night for the Bolts. It’s something that we’ve seen from Bishop in the past and hope to see more of in the future.
Following Drouin’s timely goal on the man advantage, Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen, who also made his debut with a new team tonight, scored mid-way through the second period to put the Wings back up by two goals. His goal came less than a minute after Drouin scored, killing off any potential momentum for the Lightning.
However, the Tampa Bay Lightning would not go away quietly in the middle frame and forward Cedric Paquette would bring the team within one at 13:05 of the second period. Paquette slid the puck through Mrazek’s pads after flying down the wing from the neutral zone. Detroit only led by one goal, up 3-2 with under seven minutes to go.
At the same time, defensemen Andrej Sustr and Brendan Smith threw some punches along the boards. This should not be a surprise considering both teams have built up a bit of a rivalry over the past few years, especially after last season’s first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That concluded the second period and the Lightning would begin the final frame of the game with 43 seconds on the power play.
The third period of tonight’s game was definitely an interesting one and Detroit entered the final 20 minutes looking to close out its Atlantic Division rival and grab the first win of the season. But, the Lightning would not go out without a fight.
Trailing 3-2 in the game, Lightning forward Brian Boyle sped through the neutral zone and down the wing and created a 2-on-1 with fellow linemate J.T. Brown. After closing in on the net, Boyle fired a shot from the left face-off dot and went top-shelf over Mrazek’s blocker side, which tied the game, 3-3.
His goal definitely gave the rest of the team a boost, as forward Tyler Johnson would score on the man advantage five minutes later to give the Lightning the lead and then later on in the period, forward Alex Killorn gave the team a 5-3 cushion after scoring the third power play goal of the night.
The Red Wings would score shortly after to make things interesting, though, as Detroit blue liner Danny DeKeyser was credited with one of the weirdest goals that I’ve seen in recent memory. Just take a look for yourself.
Here it is from another angle:
Despite how strange or untimely it was, that goal wouldn’t end up making a difference, as Lightning forward and face-off specialist Valtteri Filppula would backhand the puck into the empty net around a minute later to seal the deal for the Bolts. The final horn sounded and the Amalie Arena faithful cheered after the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied in the third to emerge with a 6-4 win over the Red Wings.
With all the hype surrounding this team leading into the season, it was nice to get the first win out of the way and now they can focus on their next opponent, the New Jersey Devils, which will be in town for a 7 p.m. game on Saturday in Tampa Bay.
Here are some final notes to look at following tonight’s game.
After a long off-season, it was great to see the Tampa Bay Lightning return to the ice in front of a sold out crowd and those who were in attendance certainly watched a thrilling game between two division rivals.
Despite a slow start, the team rallied from two separate deficits and emerged with their first win of the season in exciting fashion. The Lightning will return to the ice on Saturday night, as they’ll take on the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m.