This is a name that I was not considering as I headed into the Tampa Bay Times Forum at 7:00pm on Saturday, December 21st. But yet it was the Carolina Hurricanes goaltender (who at one point was goaltender for the Charlotte Checkers, but called up for Carolina due to injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin) who had made an incredible 47 saves against a fierce Tampa Bay Lightning team that wanted to prove that they had the perfect storm.
And the Tampa Bay Lightning succeeded.
The Bolts throughout all three periods and OT put out an amazing 50 shots, including the three goals from Victor Hedman, Martin St. Louis and the OT bomb from Radko Gudas. And all of this without the Lightning's scoring powerhouse Steven Stamkos.The Bolts are surely learning to adapt and adjust without Stamkos on the ice, and you can definitely see the results. New lines, new plays, new way of doing things. Sure, it has been a bumpy road for the Lightning and their fans but you can say that their resolve has been electrifying.
But anyway, I digress. Let's start from the top.
From the beginning of the first period, the Bolts spent a lot of time in Carolina's zone. Creating scoring chances and making shots. However at 4:35 of the first period Jiri Tlusty, assisted by Patty Dwyer and Riley Nash opens the scoring for the Canes with a wrist shot that Bishop, in my opinion, couldn't see. At 16:12 of the first period, Victor Hedman ties it up at 1-1, with assists from Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn. More shots, more scoring chances created by the Bolts but more saves from Justin Peter's end. A few good plays from Justin Faulk and frankly I feel he was the only Carolina defenseman who showed up.
Second period opens up, Bolts continuing to make shots but continue to get locked out by Peters. Then, 10:11 in the the second period, Jiri Tlusty makes another wrist shot assisted by Eric Staal and Ron Hainsey making it 2-1.
And then Valtteri Filppula makes a slap shot at 18:56 that was almost a goal -- but officials in Toronto declared no goal due to the puck not entirely crossing the goal line. Second period closes with Carolina in the lead but Tampa Bay leading in shots 32-18.
Start of the third period. The third period was the real difference maker. At this point, you can tell that the Canes were running out of steam and the Bolts were making their comeback--at 7:56, Bolts captain Martin St. Louis makes a tip-in goal assisted by Victor Hedman and Valtteri Filppula to tie up the game 2-2. Shots being peppered at Peters, all of a sudden became a lot more intense. Third period comes to a close, with no resolution. The Bolts and the Hurricanes move onto overtime.
Halfway through the OT period, Jeff Skinner is hit cleanly by Radko Gudas who in the process of being hit loses his stick. As Skinner is heading back to the bench Gudas along with Nate Thompson approaches Peters, and as he closes in makes a powerful slap shot to the back of the net. Bolts win it in overtime 3-2, with Tampa Bay leading in total shots 50-27.