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Lightning battle back for 7-4 win in Edmonton

Dec 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) scores a goal during the third period against Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-10-2 when trailing entering the third period. Against teams not named the Edmonton Oilers, they are 0-10-2. For the second time this season, they battled back from a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes to beat Edmonton. Steven Stamkos accounted for four goals in their 7-4 win while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 50 of 54 shots. Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Motte, and Anthony Cirelli were the other goal scorers for Tampa Bay.

While Victor Hedman missed the game, Conor Sheary returned and had two assists while playing on a line with Nick Paul and Stamkos. Kucherov, who was held off the scoreboard against Vancouver, also had another multi-point night with three to get to the 50-point mark.

First Period:

The Lightning scored twice within the first 8 minutes, which is ideal for a road team. They then spent much of the next 12 minutes holding on and watching Andrei Vasilevskiy make a lot of saves, which is less than ideal for any team.

It was The Captain that got them going just over a minute into the game after Leon Draisaitl went to the box for tripping. It wasn’t a pretty passing play that netted Stamkos his 200th career power play goal, but a little bit of puck hounding. The initial shot from Nikita Kucherov was blocked in front of the net, but Nick Paul dug out the loose puck and slid it over to Stamkos who wristed it past Stuart Skinner.

From their the Lightning forecheck kept things in the Oilers’ zone and helped them pick up a few chances. Eventually, it was another rebound effort that paid off, even if no one acknowledged it at first. Darren Raddysh skated it in on the right circle and fired a hard, accurate shot that Skinner stopped. It went right to Tyler Motte who chipped a backhander under the bar and out. There was no immediate signal from the ref as Skinner covered the loose puck. A quick review confirmed that Motte had his first goal with the Lightning.

After that, it was Edmonton who dictated the play a bit. They got their forecheck going and hassled the Lightning’s attempts to clear the puck. They started to generate chances, but Vasy was up to the task, making 15 saves. Their best defensive coverage came on a late Oilers power play as they allowed a few shots, but nothing from any really wide open players.

Second Period

The Lightning earned a power play early in the second period while still up for two goals. With a power play goal they could really put Edmonton behind the eight-ball. That’s not what happened. Darnell Nurse scored a shorthanded goal and not only did the wheels fall off, the engine blew up, and the windows shattered.

Connor McDavid scored a power play goal (just after Vasilevskiy absolutely robbed Draisaitl) and then Even Bouchard blasted a shot off of teammate Zach Hyman for another one. Midway through the game the 2-0 lead for the Lightning was a 3-2 deficit as Edmonton racked up 23 shots on 30 attempts in the period. If it wasn’t for Vasy, things would have been much, much worse.

On the few attempts out of the zone the Lightning just couldn’t get it together in the offensive zones. They either passed up opportunities to shoot or hesitated long enough for Edmonton to get in the lane. Passes bounced off of sticks or went right to Oilers in the lanes.

It was just not a great 20 minutes of hockey.

Third Period

The second period was so bad for the Lightning that it seemed like the deficit was more than just one goal. The reality was that the Bolts were just one shot away from tying the game. Maybe Edmonton relaxed a little, but Tampa Bay earned the chance to tie it up and it Stamkos who did it.

The Lightning were able to generate a little zone time and Conor Sheary worked with Stamkos to win a battle behind the net. The puck came out to Haydn Fleury who put the puck on net, Stamkos was at the side of the net and batted the rebound past Skinner on the short side to level the score.

With their lead erased, Edmonton pushed back, but the Lightning did a decent job of covering players up and not allowing multiple whacks at the puck. There were a few more breakdowns and turnovers, but when it happened Vasilevskiy was there to bail them out.

The go-ahead goal actually started when Kucherov turned the puck over at his own blueline. Edmonton turned it into a chance, but Kuch helped to break it up before getting the puck cleared. He then worked his way through the neutral zone, pushed Cody Ceci back and tapped a spinning puck into the back of the net to give the Lightning the lead.

Less than two minutes later, Stamkos sucked the soul out of the building as he absolutely wired a flat-footed wrist shot from just inside the blue line, off the bar and into the net for the hat trick. It was an absolutely incredible shot that Skinner never expected.

Down two and on a power play, the Oilers pulled Skinner for the extra skater. Vasilevskiy and his defense survived a hectic two minutes, but just after the penalty expired, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins redirected a pass from Bouchard into the net. The chase was on.

The defense held and Anthony Cirelli was able to knock in an empty-netter to re-establish the two-goal lead. After Vasilevskiy took a chance at the empty net, Stamkos recorded his first four-goal game by splitting the posts to end a chaotic third period.

Somehow, the Lightning were victorious and they will look to make it two in a row in Calgary on Saturday.

The Goals

Steven Stamkos (Nick Paul, Brayden Point) Power Play, 1-0 Lightning

Tyler Motte (Darren Raddysh, Mikey Eyssimont) 2-0 Lightning

Darnell Nurse (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Derek Ryan) Shorthanded, 2-1 Lightning

Connor McDavid (unassisted) Power Play, 2-2

Zach Hyman (Evan Bouchard, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) Power Play, 3-2 Oilers

Steven Stamkos (Haydn Fleury, Conor Sheary) 3-3

Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev), 4-3 Lightning

Steven Stamkos (Conor Sheary) 5-3 Lightning

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Evan Bouchard, Connor McDavid) 5-4, Lightning

Anthony Cirelli (unassisted) Empty Net, 6-4 Lightning

Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov, Calvin de Haan) Empty Net, 7-4 Lightning

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