Stanley Cup Playoffs: Tampa Bay Lightning extends series lead with victory over Devils

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning extend their series lead to two with a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game Two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely had momentum on their side as they headed back into the Amalie Arena in the heart of Downtown Tampa to take on the New Jersey Devils in Game Two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Thursday night, the Lightning found a way to solve the Devils conundrum and handed them a 5-2 loss in Game One.

If the Lightning wanted to remain successful and increase their series lead over the Devils, they would have to play with the exact same intensity as they did on Thursday night. Well, minus the momentary lapse where they allowed the Devils to get two goals back. No big deal, right?

There was definitely a lot of fight between these two teams to kick off Game Two. It was blatantly obvious the Devils had stepped up their defensive game since Thursday night. If the Lightning wanted to keep everything moving in their favor, the Bolts offense would have to do the very same.

Much like Game One of the series, it took a little past the halfway point in the period for someone to break the ice. The good news is when the horn sounded to signal the first goal of the game it would be the Boys in Blue who would be celebrating.

Lightning forward Brayden Point would pick up his first goal of the postseason with a beautiful top-shelf shot against Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid. We can’t really fault Kinkaid here…Brayden Point really is that good.

Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning and everyone here in the Bolts Nation, it wasn’t long before the Devils would find a way to get back in the game. An icing call enabled the Devils to get fresh skates out on the ice. A defensive breakdown, which centered on Anton Stralman, resulted in Devils forward Nico Hischier picking up his first-ever postseason goal and tying the game at one.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

When the buzzer would sound to end the first period of play, the Lightning and Devils would be tied at one goal each. Surprisingly, the Devils were a bit more aggressive with the puck in the first 20 minutes of play. Unlike Game One where the Lightning controlled much of the pace of the game, the Devils outshot the Bolts 10-6.

Granted, this isn’t the biggest disparity in the world, but all it takes is a matter of seconds and one single shot on goal can turn into a goal and completely change the course of the game. If the Lightning wanted to pull ahead and wrestle control of the game once again, they would have to heighten their intensity and bring the fight straight to the Devils net.

The second period was straight fire for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts picked up not one, not two, but three goals in the first six minutes of the period. The first goal came from Alex Killorn. This was Killorn’s second goal of the postseason. Assists on Killorn’s goal went to Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

The second goal of the period went to Tyler Johnson. Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh fired off a bomb from the blueline, which met the stick of Johnson and deflected past Kinkaid and into the back of the net to give the Bolts 3-1 lead over the Devils.

The third goal in the first six minutes of the second period went to Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov picked up an empty-netter in Game One, so this marks his second goal of the postseason. What’s almost comical about this goal is it wasn’t actually Kucherov who scored the goal.

Nikita Kucherov did indeed fire the puck towards the net, but it was Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen who would put the puck past Keith Kinkaid and into the back of the net to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a three-goal lead over the New Jersey Devils.

Not long after the halfway point in the period, Alex Killorn picked up his second goal of the night. There was an intense battle in front of the net, but it was Killorn who was able to emerge victoriously and put the puck in the back of the net. This gave the Lightning a 5-1 lead over the Devils.

The Devils were able to somewhat get back in the game in the final minute of the second period. Sami Vatanen earned himself a little bit of redemption from his first-period mishap as he put the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net to put the Devils within three.

When the second period came to a close, it would be the Devils who would once again emerge victorious in the shots on goal department. The Devils outshot the Lightning 15-11 in the second for a two-period total of 25-17 in favor of the Devils. Of course, when you look at the scoresheet, things look slightly different.

It was clear at this point the Lightning were in the heads of the Devils. Things started to get very chippy and the Devils seemed to be looking for a fight. Thankfully, it seemed as if the Lightning was having none of it. With the way the Lightning’s Penalty Kill has been playing as of late, staying out of the box is definitely the best idea.

Unfortunately, as the third period progressed the tides seemed to shift in favor of the New Jersey Devils. It all started with a goal from Devils forward Blake Coleman. After this, the Lightning seemed to falter on the defensive end, allowing the Devils to have far too many scoring chances against Vasilevskiy.

There was a moment in the third period when the Lightning almost had their lead diminished to a mere one goal. The Bolts caught a serious break here when it was determined there was no goal on the play. The Bolts Nation was in a pure state of shock as Toronto confirmed the call on the ice.

The Lightning seemed to have a bit of a defensive meltdown in the third period. Thankfully, Andrei Vasilevskiy was able to hold strong and keep the Bolts in the game. Of course, it didn’t exactly help things when the Devils capitalized on the Lightning’s breakdown by starting a bit of a scrum behind the net.

The good news here is the Lightning didn’t allow this to break down their resolve. The Bolts were able to hold on to their two-goal lead and defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-3 in Game Two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, the Bolts lead the series 2-0.

5. 23. 3. 85. Final

The Tampa Bay Lightning has a totally new challenge in front of them. Now, the Lightning will take this show on the road as they make their way to the Prudential Center in Newark to continue their series against the Devils. Unfortunately, the Bolts may be missing two members of their lineup as they make their way to Newark.

Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan left the game in the second period after a hit along the boards. The official word from the team is Callahan has suffered an Upper-Body Injury. Another player who went missing during the encounter was Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. It is unclear what the injury or the extent of the said injury is when it comes to Dan Girardi.

On the bright side, the Lightning has one of the strongest developmental systems in the National Hockey League. While a team always wants their key players in the lineup, there are plenty of young, capable players ready to step up and help the Lightning continue their winning ways.

If the Lightning wants to continue their success as they head to Newark, they will need to remain focused on the task at hand. They simply must remain aggressive with the puck, keep the puck out of the zone, and not get pulled into any unnecessary penalties.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Playoffs Gift Guide

As we mentioned before, the Lightning is now headed to the Prudential Center. The Bolts have tomorrow off, but they will get back to business on Monday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. This is quickly turning out to be an exciting series and everyone here in the Bolts Nation is on the edge of their seats waiting to see what these two teams have in store for us next.