The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2.
This was a very good game. From the beginning – when the 18-year-old rookie James Wright scored his first NHL career goal 30 seconds into the game from none other than his current linemates Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier – all the way to the end – when the goalless Alex Tanguay selflessly chose to pass to Steven Stamkos for the goal instead of trying for an open net himself. They were consistent, solid, and doing exactly what they were supposed to do to win.
I guess that line-shakeup worked out pretty well for them, huh?
To give a very good team its due, San Jose is in the middle of an almost two-week long road trip. And, regardless of what many Lightning fans might think after last night, Evgeni Nabokov is one of the best goalies in the league. The Sharks defense just didn’t seem to have things as together as they might have wanted them to be.
Dan Boyle made his first visit to Tampa since he was forced to waive his no-trade clause back in the summer of 2008. He didn't play his best game, because he was obviously emotional about being there. And he did score a goal, tho he was a -3 on the night. Still, it was good to see him back in the St. Pete Times Forum.Mike Smith really needed this win. It wasn’t his best game, but it was still a good game for him. And considering what his goals against and save percentage are right now, a win like this can only help his confidence. Of course, his defensemen were dropping like flies to block shots, and that’s always helpful. Assuming the goalie in net is okay with the defensemen doing that, since many prefer to have as many shots hit them as possible instead.
If you’re a defenseman, and even a forward, that’s something you always need to ask the goalies. Do you want me to block shots or not? Because sometimes, that’s not as helpful as you might think it is.
Sure, Lecavalier didn’t score, but he did everything else that he needed to in this game. And, okay, they weren’t great with the penalty kill, letting the Sharks convert on one of their three power plays. And, yeah, they were outshot 25-34. And one of the few areas they statistically dominated in this game was in faceoffs. (Zenon Konopka was an outrageous 6-1 on faceoffs – that’s winning 86% of them. Vinny was 10-6, winning 63%, and that’s normally considered good – tho he won his first six of the night.)
But this isn’t just about the goalie, or playing a very good team, or even about the win. This game was about putting together a solid effort for all 60 minutes. And they did that. If they can play this way most nights, then they have a very good chance at making playoffs in April.