When starting a playoff series on the road, the mentality is to come away with at least one win away from home. The Lightning got that win Wednesday in game two as they leveled this series at 1-1.
In what seemed like a night and day difference from game one, the Lightning brought their game from the get-go and their stars came to play on the way to a 5-3 win before the series shifts back to Tampa.
Let’s break it down.
1. Hedman’s Big Night
Victor Hedman was the best player on the ice in game two. He had a four-point night with three of his points coming on the powerplay. Hedman scored the first goal of the series for Tampa Bay in the dying seconds of the first period and assisted on Corey Perry’s breakaway goal to make it 2-0 on an incredible stretch pass. The four-point night was the first of Hedman’s playoff career.
2. Powerplay Improvements
The Lightning’s powerplay was not only bad in game one, but it actually hurt them as well. The powerplay looked better from their very first opportunity as they were able to finally gain the zone to set up and create chances. They converted on the powerplay three times and Nikita Kucherov recorded a point on two of the three including a goal in the second period that would end up being the game winner.
3. The Penalty Kill
Not enough can be made about the importance of special teams. The Lightning penalty kill came up gigantic as well. They killed off all four Maple Leaf penalties including two in the first period with the game still scoreless. Just like the Leafs did to them in game one, Tampa Bay was even a threat shorthanded as they generated four shots on goal as well while shorthanded.
4. Vasilevskiy Bounces Back Again
The Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy have won 15 straight games following a loss in the playoffs. Vasilevskiy looked shaky at times in the game one beat down and he came back with a solid performance in the game two victory. He would make 31 saves on 34 shots with the best one coming on an incredible glove save in the second period while holding onto a 1-0 lead.
5. Production at the Bottom of the Lineup
The top six forwards of these two teams are some of the best in the NHL and essentially cancel each other out in this series. The performance of the bottom six forwards may be the biggest difference maker in the series aside from goaltending, and the Lightning clearly have more depth and experience down the lineup. Corey Perry was up to his typical worm-like behaviors, but he scored on a breakaway in the second period. Brandon Hagel also added a goal in the third period to push the game further out of reach for his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.