The Tampa Bay Lightning got back to their winning ways Thursday night after losing three straight games in regulation and getting shutout in two straight. Tampa Bay put together a strong 60 minute outing on the way to a 4-2 win in Chicago over a Blackhawks team who beat them 5-3 just a week ago.
Brayden Point led the charge with a three point night as his line with Nikita Kucherov and Brandon Hagel was all over the place. Getting Erik Cernak back after missing last game was a huge boost as well for a Lightning defense core that had a very strong night as well.
Power Play Gets them Going
After going goalless in two straight games and the first period on Thursday, the Lightning were looking for a break or a spark to finally get something going. Over the last few games, their power play had dried up after being red-hot for much of the season. A power play goal was the way the eventually broke through thanks to Point re-directing a shot pass from Victor Hedman in the second period.
The power play has been something that has always kept this team in games over the years and they can still click at a high rate. They are hitting at over 30 percent early in the season which is among the very best in the NHL. Getting something to break through on the man advantage seemed like the way for the dam to finally burst for this offense.
Production from the Back End
This might have been the best overall game so far for the Lightning defense core. Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev each had outstanding games, particularly because they contributed on offense by both adding a goal. Coming into Thursday, the Lightning had just three goals this season from defenseman, all of which belonged to Hedman.
It was especially nice to see Sergachev get on the board Thursday. Sergachev has become the punching bag of the Lightning defense that has struggled this season. Sergachev has certainly had his troubles this season but he has been receiving entirely too much blame. His second period goal should go a long way for his confidence and get his game trending in the right direction.
The Lightning played a solid game overall Thursday but they really stood out in the third period, especially while playing with the lead. They allowed just two shots on goal in the third period. One of those shots against was a goal at the begging of the period from Corey Perry that leveled the game up at two.
From Perry’s goal forward, the Lightning completely took over the game. They began to surge around the midway point of the third as they took the lead back thanks to Hedman’s goal. The Lightning would end up having the puck on offense a ton in the period and that made for a defensive recipe for seeing the game through to the end.
One thing that was most impressive about the steady game that the Lightning played defensively was that they played much of the game without Anthony Cirelli, their top defensive forward. Cirelli left the game in the second period after blocking a shot around his hand/wrist area.