The Tampa Bay Lightning found all the answers in the response to their disappointing defeat in Buffalo on Monday night. After falling 5-1 to the Sabres, Tampa Bay flipped the script to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 the following night.
The Lightning also had the answer to their 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh on opening night. The Penguins were once again shorthanded without all their top names on the ice. Despite the lack of firepower in the Pens lineup, they have continued to find ways to win and be difficult to play against.
Let’s look at how the Lightning got it done.
1. Scoring First
For the first time all season, the Lightning finally scored the opening goal. Brayden Point found himself on a semi-breakaway and roofed a backhand shot 31 seconds into the second period. In addition to the first time scoring the first goal, this marked the first lead the Lightning held all season as well. Once they got out front, the Lightning would add two more goals in the second period from Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh. The two goals came within 10 seconds of each other.
2. Earning the Breaks
Despite having possibly their best offensive period this season in the second period, it was not their absolute best overall. The Lightning spent a fair amount of time in their own zone in the second period and Pittsburgh continued to threaten. The score could have easily been 1-1 before the Lightning added two quick goals to make it 3-0. After some games where they played well and deserved better results, this was a time the Lightning had earned the bounces they got. Their fortunes would be rewarded with a 3-0 lead going into the third period.
3. Shutting it Down
Obviously, we have not gotten the chance to see the Lightning play with a lead yet this season. With a big lead in the final period, Tampa Bay was able to shut things down defensively. While skating 5-on-5 in the third period, the Lightning held the Penguins to just three shots on net. They did an exceptional job defending and making it difficult for Pittsburgh to enter the offensive zone. Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding throughout but unfortunately lost his shutout bid late in the third as the Lightning surrendered a goal on a Pittsburgh powerplay.
4. Live by the Empty Net, Die by the Empty Net
The Lightning had played more time this season with their net empty than they did with a lead. Not a recipe for success. After Pittsburgh scored three empty net goals against Tampa Bay on opening night, the Lightning gave it right back on Tuesday. The Lightning would score two goals of their own with the net empty to help cruise into the 5-1 victory. Another nice turnaround after seeing Buffalo do the same to them the night before.
5. The Harvard Guy
Let’s show a little love for Alex Killorn. With his assist on Point’s goal in the second period, Killorn became Harvard’s all-time leading scorer in the NHL. His 348th career point put him ahead of his former coach Ted Donato for points by a former Harvard player. For good measure, Killorn would add an empty net goal to push his career point total to 349. How’s that for some math, Harvard?