Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde hit the first of many milestones tonight, scoring his first-ever NHL goal against the Florida Panthers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had an uneasy start tonight against their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. What started out as a chirpy game between these two Sunshine State teams turned into an all-out nightmare for the Lightning and their fans in the first period.
After quickly setting the pace of the game and really bringing some intense pressure to the Florida Panthers in the opening moments of the game, the team seemed to take a wrong turn along the way and quickly ended up down 2-0 to the Kitty Cats.
The Bolts knew if they wanted to bring home the two points, something needed to be done, and quickly. Thankfully, when the Lightning hit the ice for the second period of play, they were ready to answer the call.
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Just 3:48 into the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning would capitalize on a Power Play handed to them by Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, who was sent to the sin bin for both Roughing and Fighting against Gabriel Dumont, with a goal from the Lightning’s leading goal-scorer, Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov’ goal was definitely an amazing jolt for the Lightning, but when it really came down to it, the Lightning still trailed their in-state rivals by a goal. The good news is, the Lightning had plenty of time left in the game to make a move and get something done.
It was just past the halfway point in the period when Lightning would find themselves in a precarious position. The Lightning was caught shorthanded after Lightning defenseman (and sometimes forward) Luke Witkowski was sent to the sin bin for Cross Checking against Jaromir Jagr.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were already down a goal to the Panthers. The absolute last thing they needed at this moment in time was to give the Panthers an opportunity with the man advantage and a perfect opportunity to extend their lead once again. Thankfully, this was not what the Lightning had in mind.
As the Panthers attempted to play the puck into the Lightning zone, Lightning rookie Yanni Gourde would deftly steal the puck away from Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck and go speeding through the neutral zone towards the Panthers net. Never hesitating, Gourde made a run for Panthers netminder James Reimer.
The entire time Gourde was charging towards the net, Trocheck was fighting tooth and nail to get the puck back. Unfortunately for Trocheck, Gourde’s stick-handling skills proved to be too much for him to handle. Once Gourde was in front of the net, he let go of the shot and sent the puck flying into the back of the net.
Yanni Gourde’s goal in the second period is quite the milestone. First and foremost, this goal was his first-ever goal in the National Hockey League. This, in and of itself, is an outstanding accomplishment for anyone looking to make a name for themselves in the National Hockey League. This goal was something else, though.
According to NHL Public Relations, who got their information courtesy of Elias Sports, Yanni Gourde is the first Tampa Bay Lightning player to score his first career NHL goal shorthanded since former Lightning center Eric Perrin back on November 2, 2006.
So, not only did the 25-year-old Canadian center score his first-ever NHL goal, (shorthanded, no less), but he also touched a record that hasn’t been reached in over a decade. We don’t know about you, but from where we’re sitting, this is a pretty outstanding way to truly break into the NHL.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has tied things up, but there is still plenty of hockey left to play. The Lightning really needs the two points in tonight’s contest if they want to remain a contender in the playoff race. Despite all the injuries the team has been dealing with, they have what they need to get the job done. Here’s hoping the Bolts can retain their focus and bring home the much-needed victory.