"They mean it this time! Really!"
For the second straight night, officiating was hands off and the entire threat of officials strict enforcement of the rules looks like another unrealized dream. Games once again lack strong officiating after a strict start to the season... And by playoff time, officials will not exist.
Lets start with the Lightning offense before getting to the complaining:
Oh, Danny boy -- for the second consecutive game, Dan Boyle lights the lamp. Not once but twice, to boot! Boyle's second goal tied the game (grumble, grumble... must...suffocate... John Grahame... grumble, grumble) at 14:15 of the third. Rob Dimaio also scored his first goal of the season -- and the indominable Ollie the Goalie suddenly seemed mortal at the time... The puck slipped through, five hole, just enough for Dimaio to grab it and give it enough push to cross the goal line.
Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal scored during the shootout to give the Lightning their first ever shootout win. There was this kid named Alex, maybe you've heard of him, who accounted for Washington's lone goal during the shootout.
Now lets squarely focus on about 2 minutes of the 2nd period that get to me like several inane moments in Tampa Bay goaltending this season...
First off, John Grahame continues his weak play on the breakaway / shootout (of course, his play in the actual shootout at the end of the game sort of contradicts this point but lemme say it anyway) by allowing Matt Pettinger to capitalize on a penalty shot. Of course, focus on Grahame's weak play overlooks the desperation move on defense that gave Matt the opportunity in the first place but...
...But there's no excusing goal #3 scored moments after the penalty shot was sunk by Pettinger.
I don't know, folks, I just don't know... Some people think I am way too harsh on John Grahame and then Mr. Grahame botches things up so well, so profoundly efficiently to put his team in a whole that I would think those supporters would see why I voice discontent with him. John finds himself grossly out of position once again and leaves the net open for Brian Suthersby... It's just not even a simple screw up (not with how often these screw ups are occuring with Grahame). The game could have very well been iced by Washingtonwith the hole Grahame dug for the Lightning. It was 3-0 at this point and, only a minute into the second period, momentum could have taken the team back to the abyss that it dwelt in during it's mediocre days of weeks gone by.
I guess you can chalk that up for perserverence then -- overcoming such a screw up and pulling the team within 2 points of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Southeast Division.
Still... It makes me wonder about the call I made to give John the start in the last post. It makes me continue to wonder just how the Lightning are going to deal with the goalie situation in weeks, months and years to come... A win is a win though, and I'll take that for the evening. A Thanksgiving eve treat that makes me thankful we're even playing these games and not sitting through another year of the lockout.
EditTom Jones at the Times goes over the top suggesting last night's game was the greatest / most dramatic win Lightning history... Yes, that's right - most dramatic win in Lightning history...? I'm sorry I don't have every game in hand that was more dramatic or comebacks that were less plausible against better teams, but I wouldn't chalk last night's game up with most dramatic victories in Lightning history by a long shot... That writes off quite a few terrible Lightning teams that made you love them just because of the work they did to beat one big name opponent or another in implausible fashion.
Meanwhile, Erik Erlendsson over at the Tampa Tribune takes a more tactful approach -- focusing on the shootout victory aspect of the game. Not over the top, just down home journalism that trumps Jones by a long shot.