The Montreal Canadiens came into Florida on their post-Christmas road swing. Hopefully along the way they enjoyed the weather, had a grouper sandwich and maybe got in a round at a golf course somewhere along the way. Those would have been the highlights of their trip to Florida, because as they leave, they're leaving with nary a point and their first back-to-back losses of the season at the hands of the Panthers in Miami and the Lightning in Hockey Bay USA.
Going into the game, the Bolts were stirred a bit -- if not shaken -- by Dmitry Afanasenkov being waived and his departure from the franchise. Add to the rumors coming from all directions that John Tortorella, Jay Feaster or both were imminently going to be handed their walking papers and you have a team not only hoping to rebound from a humiliating loss, but a team that needs to show their stuff. Their real stuff.
And for one night, they did just that.
41 shots, 3 goals, 2 points and 1 game below .500. Is this new life for the Lightning or a fluke in a season that has drudged along in frustrating fashion?
Vaclav Prospal snapped a 21 game goal drought. Andreas Karlsson, the other player waived on Friday, participated in Saturday night's game. The Lightning, with some of the worst special teams records in the NHL, looked formidable against the Habs who have some of the best special teams in the league. Dan Boyle and Brad Richards both had 2 points a piece and Martin St. Louis also had an assist.
And while the Lightning didn't face many shots, I gotta hand it to Johan Holmqvist for holding down the fort in the Lightning zone. He made the saves that had to be made and could have likely gotten away from another netminder on any given day.
3-1 the final at Times Palace tonight. The Lightning start a road trip to ring in the new year and one has to wonder if anything else "new" will be coming the Lightning's way before the final horn sounds for 2006?