The Tampa Bay Lightning came out strong and exacted some sweet revenge on the New York Islanders in the form of a 6-2 victory.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a great game on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks where a 5-2 victory created some serious momentum for the team. The Lightning had yet another challenge in front of them tonight as they opened up the doors to the Amalie Arena to the New York Islanders.
Unfortunately, the first meeting between these two teams did not go very well for the Lightning. The Bolts were very relaxed in the first period and despite a third-period charge, ended up with another case of “Too Little, Too Late.” Obviously, the Lightning entered tonight’s contest looking for a much different outcome.
The Lightning wasted absolutely no time in bringing the fire to the New York Islanders. It was just 34 seconds into the game when forward Brayden Point would strike first blood for the Bolts. The assists on the Point goal would go to Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.
One of the biggest aspects of the game missing from the Lightning’s first meeting with the Islanders was tenacity in the first period. This allowed the Isles to control the pace of much of the game. Obviously, this is something the Bolts were looking to (and accomplished) in tonight’s meeting with the Isles.
In the final three minutes of the first period, the Bolts Nation was left wondering whether or not they had slipped into some sort of an alternate reality. Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr picked up his second goal of the season to give the Bolts a two-goal lead over the Isles.
Tampa Bay Lightning
When the buzzer sounded to end the first period, the Lightning would essentially dominate the Islanders; especially when it came to Shots on Goal. The Lightning outshot the Islanders 11-2 in the first 20 minutes of play. That’s right, Bolts Nation…the Lightning scored as many goals in the first period as the Islanders had Shots on Goal.
Unfortunately, this Lightning seemed to fall into an all-too-familiar trap in the second period. The Bolts were complacent in their lead and allowed the Islanders to seize control of the game. The Islanders came back hard with two goals in the course of two minutes. The first came at 7:07 in the period from forward Mathew Barzal. The second came at 8:58, this time from forward Jordan Eberle.
As the period pressed on, Lightning fans fell into despair and wondered where the team from the first 20 minutes of play had disappeared to. Thankfully, the search party seemingly located the team and directed them back to the ice before the end of the second period.
It all started just before the 15-minute mark in the period when Islanders forward Jason Chimera was awarded a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Roughing against Lightning forward Yanni Gourde. The Bolts would take advantage of the Power Play opportunity and Gourde would pick up his seventh goal of the season.
Gourde wasn’t done leaving his mark on this game just yet. A little over one minute after his Power Play goal, Yanni Gourde would pick up his second goal of the night (and eighth of the season) to give the Lightning a two-goal lead over the Islanders.
The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely had the momentum heading towards the second intermission, but surprisingly enough, they weren’t done bringing the fight to the Islanders just yet. At 18:42 in the period, the Lightning would get another crack at the Power Play as Anders Lee would head to the penalty box for Tripping against Nikita Kucherov.
This opened the door for Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov to pick up his 11th goal of the season with assists from Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Needless to say, this exponentially increased the Lightning’s momentum heading into the third period.
The Islanders made up a lot of ground in the first half of the second, but the Lightning simply couldn’t be contained in the second half. Through two periods of play, the Bolts would outshoot the Isles 24-19. The Lightning would pick up some ground in the faceoff circle as well, beating the Isles 21-19.
By the end of the second period, Lightning fans were experiencing a serious case of déjà vu. The Lightning was up 5-2, which happened to be one goal shy of the way the Islanders defeated the Lightning in their first meeting of the season. Thankfully, the numbers were reversed this time.
Much like the first period of play, the Lightning would get off to a quick and efficient start. Lightning forward Chris Kunitz would pick up his fourth goal of the season, unassisted, to increase the Lightning’s lead over the Islanders to 6-2. Kunitz is one of those players you absolutely hate to play against, but love to death when he’s on your side.
The Islanders would attempt to make up some ground in the latter moments of the game, but Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy would hold strong and prevent the Islanders from mounting any sort of comeback. This is reminiscent of the ending of the first meeting with the Isles, except totally in reverse.
When the final buzzer would sound, the Lightning would pull off yet another victory in front of their hometown crowd, defeating the New York Islanders 6-2. This extends the Lightning’s league-leading point total to 40 points.
The obvious standout in tonight’s game is Yanni Gourde. It was Gourde’s two goals in the second period which kicked the Lightning back into gear and brought back the team from the first period. Lightning fans had some pretty high expectations for Gourde heading into the season. The good news is he hasn’t disappointed.
Another standout in tonight’s game was Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy had to work extra hard in the second period to keep the Bolts afloat. Vasy made 29 saves on 31 shots on goal for a Save Percentage of .935. The Islanders made a serious push in the first half of the second period, and Vasy is one of the main reasons the Bolts came out of the second in the position they did.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has one day off before they have to get back to business once again. Next, the Lightning will face off with the Colorado Avalanche in the third game of their current four-game homestand.
There is no denying the Lightning has momentum on their side right now. There are a few questions heading into Thursday’s game. One of which is whether or not Head Coach Jon Cooper will elect to go with the same lines he’s been running the last two games or whether he’ll choose to shake things up again.
Honestly, as the old saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The Lightning’s newest line combinations have been working wonders for the team as of late, and there is no real reason to make any changes.