Game 5: Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts felled one of the league's last undefeated team's with tonight's 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars.

An interesting move tonight was the starting line--Dana Tyrell, Nate Thompson, and Adam Hall--who were up against the Stars toughest line: namely Brad Richards', a familiar name in this arena. Head Coach Guy Boucher turned to the fourth line for an aggressive group that would stay on top of Dallas.

"I'm all about work ethic, and I want guys who are relentless. These guys are relentless."

Recap

In the first period, Dallas opened the scoring with a short-handed goal from Toby Peterson. It served as a wake up call for the Bolts, as they built momentum to follow with Steve Downie's equalizing goal, assisted by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos . With 14 seconds left in the first, Steven Stamkos added another goal to his record to finish the first 2-1 with the Lightning lead, assisted by Victor Hedman and Ryan Malone

(Video and more after the jump)

In the second, another Dallas goal raised the score 2-2. Lightning goals from Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore finished the second at 4-2 in favor of the Lightning. Mike Smith had a better second period, including a nice save on a puck to the glove, but overall it wasn't enough to bump him into the category of consistent, reliable players. 

Things got a bit spicier in the third, with more physical play from St. Louis. Star's James Neal took a penalty after elbowing Steve Downie, leading to a Lightning power play and another goal for Dominic Moore, assisted by Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman. Two more goals from Dallas ended the game with a win for the Lightning at 5-4. 

Tonight was clearly a step in the right direction. Steven Stamkos said in an interview afterwards:

"That's the beauty of hockey. One day off, and we play so we can forget about it. We learned our lesson, and I thought tonight was the first night we played a full 60 minutes of the structure we wanted to play."

This season's progression is already a dramatic break from what we were subject to last year. The character and chemistry of this team is keeping me on edge, ready to see what's coming next. 

1, 2, 3: Steve Downie scored the first Lightning goal, his second goal this season, off of Stamkos' third assist of the season.

Repeat: Things that keep on coming

  • In a couple of moments that could have turned gritty for temper-prone Steve Downie, he denied the penalty and kept it cool (okay, he had a little bit of help from the referee in the third). Point is, we're seeing a different Downie this season, and I'm liking it. 
  • Power play goals abound, as 4 out of tonight's 5 goals were scored on the Lightning PP. Even without Vinny. 
  • The Bolts continued to follow Boucher's orders, with 44 shots on goal versus Dallas' 19. During the preseason, Boucher noted that he wanted to see 40 per game, a strategy which is working, obviously. 
  • Nate Thompson won 12 out of 19 faceoffs, finishing the game with a 63% faceoff win, adding to the growing list of reasons why we are loving Nate Thompson. 

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