The Tampa Bay Lightning’s strong run of play at home continued Tuesday night with a 6-1 thumping of the St. Louis Blues. The Lightning returned home from a difficult five-game Western Conference road trip that saw them bring home just four points. Tampa Bay is now 3-0 in December at home and have outscored their opponents 13-2.
Tuesday turned into a point night all around for Tampa Bay as their depth came through in a big way. 12 Lightning skaters found their way onto the scoresheet after Tampa Bay scored three goals in the first period, two in the second and one in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy nearly recorded his second shutout of the season but his bid was foiled with under five minutes to go in the third.
Off and Running Early
The Lightning have been making a habit of scoring first lately. Tuesday marked the seventh time in their last eight games that they have gotten on the board first. Scoring first has not necessarily translated into wins but they are now 10-4-0 this season when doing so.
Tampa Bay got a pair of goals from their bottom six forwards as Mikey Eyssimont and Tyler Motte both scored in the first period. Eyssimont was the beneficiary of a giveaway from Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and Motte cashed in on a big net front scramble. Kucherov would add a third goal with just 14 seconds to go in the first as Tampa Bay took a 3-0 into the first intermission.
Straightening Out the Second
The second period has been a period full of struggles for the Lightning in recent weeks. During their five-game Western trip, Tampa Bay was outscored 12-0 over that trip in the second period and was a large reason why the Lightning came back with just two wins.
The second period on Tuesday was a strong one for Tampa Bay as they added two more goals to pad their lead and forced a goaltending change for the Blues. Kucherov added another goal just under two minutes into the second and Haydn Fleury also notched his first goal of the season and as a member of the Lightning with a slap shot from out high.
St. Louis did push back well after going down 4-0 in the second. The Blues began to surge and Andrei Vasilevskiy was very strong to keep the defecit in check. St. Louis managed to get 13 shots on target in the second including several great chances while shorthanded.
Impressive Night for Fleury
Tuesday night was just the seventh game of the season for Haydn Fleury. After playing sparingly and spending time in the AHL this season, his opportunities to play have been few and far between. Fleury’s goal was the first by a Lightning defenseman this season not named Victor Hedman or Mikhail Sergachev. Fleury also added an assist and was +4 on the evening for what was his best game as a member of the Lightning.
Fleury also picked up the slack with Sergachev getting injured in the first period. Fleury ended up playing over 22 minute with the Lightning down to five defensemen. While getting on the scoresheet was impressive, Fleury was also impressive with how simple he keeps his game. He skates the puck out well and gets the puck out of the zone and moves the game north.
Jon Cooper said after the game that (Fleury) has “ given him a reason to keep him in”. He may not have a choice now depending on if Sergachev is going to miss time after blocking a shot off his foot.