The Tampa Bay Lightning got back in the win column Thursday night on the second of two straight games against the St. Louis Blues. After squandering an early 3-0 lead on Tuesday against the Blues, Tampa Bay came out on top of what was a back-and-forth affair 4-2.
Steven Stamkos coming back into the lineup and Andrei Vasilevskiy back in net made a big difference for the Lightning. Even when St. Louis surged at times, Tampa was never made uncomfortable and never allowed the Blues to take over the game like they did on Tuesday.
Let’s break down how it happened.
1. No Goals Against 5-on-5
Both of the Blues goals came on the powerplay. St. Louis came in with the league’s second ranked powerplay at over 30% on the year. They converted in the second period to make it 1-1 and again in the third to tie it again at 2-2. The Lightning did a good job of limiting the Blues opportunities at even strength and were able to persevere while allowing St. Louis to hang around because of their powerplay. The Lightning were able to hold St. Louis to just 21 shots at even strength.
2. Quick Work on the Powerplay
After not converting on their first two powerplay chances in the game, Anthony Cirelli put the Lightning ahead 2-1 in the third period five seconds into the man advantage. Cirelli won the faceoff and then was set up for a quick one-time shot on a set play with Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman. Cirelli’s quick strike marked his third powerplay goal of the season. For a guy who has not always gotten regular work on the powerplay, he has been making the most of his opportunities.
3. Blocked Shots
A big part of holding the Blues to just 21 shots on goal at even strength was getting bodies in the shooting lanes. Tampa Bay officially recorded 22 blocked shots in the win. It was a team effort getting bodies in front of pucks and limiting the number of shots that got through to Vasilevskiy. Few things can give teams as much energy as eating pucks on defense can.
4. Third Period Outburst
After just two goals through the first two periods, both teams combined for four goals in the final period. The Lightning accounted for three of them on the way to victory. The Lightning were held off the scoreboard in the third period of each of the last two games. Getting some significant offense in the final period proved to be the difference maker from the last two games that ended in a regulation and shootout loss.
5. Hedman’s Big Period.
Victor Hedman scored both of the Lightning’s final two goals in the third period. On both occasions, Hedman found himself with tons of time and space and called his own number on the shot. His first goal gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead 53 seconds after St. Louis tied things at 2-2. Hedman walked the blue line and found a ton of open ice and wired a howitzer past Blues backup netminder Ville Husso. He got another chance as St. Louis served one up on a platter that the big defenseman jumped up on and found himself all alone with Husso in front of the net. Hedman was patient and made a great move and roofed the shot to give the Lightning the 4-2 advantage.