It's a "chicken or the egg" proposition at best when talking about who establishes the level of excitement at a game, players or fans. While it can be argued that professional athletes should never have to rely on fans to get pumped up, the fact of the matter is that the atmosphere was a little flat in the Amalie Arena stands at the start of tonight's game. It's somewhat understandable, though. It's possible, maybe even likely, that many fans were still a little worn out from all the emotion flying around the place Wednesday. And let's face it, under ordinary circumstances, following extraordinary circumstances, the Ottawa Senators are not an opponent that inspires a lot of passion. It's also possible that many in attendance were keeping one eye on the fourth quarter of the football game between Florida and Florida State during the early going. At any rate, the Lightning were not exactly sluggish or slow but they weren't feeding on a hyped-up crowd to get them buzzing with the energy they had Wednesday night.
The good news is they heated up just fine as the game went along, and so did the crowd, and by the end the scoreboard reflected a pretty dominant outcome.
One thing that did draw a boisterous response early on was the return of Victor Hedman to the line-up after missing 18 games with a fractured finger. He notched 19:55 on the ice and was a +2
"I felt conditioning was not an issue. I think in the beginning, timing was a little bit off. But I think it got better throughout the game. It felt good to get back in the power play. It was a good step in the right direction. For me, the first game back, I'm pretty pleased." - Hedman
This was actually a comeback win for the Lightning, as Ottawa opened the scoring at 18:13 of the first period, with a power play goal scored by David Legwand, who was celebrating his 1,000th NHL game. He was assisted on the play by Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris.
The Senators would carry that 1-0 lead into the first intermission but that was the end of their offensive output.
At 5:13 of the second, the Lightning tied it up on a goal from Ryan Callahan, who was assisted on the play by Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn. Since the Lightning are undefeated every time Callahan puts one in the net (see below), could you call this the winning goal? NHL rules say no, so the score was tied after two periods.
The Lightning took the lead at 1:16 of the third when Killorn potted the actual game winner on helpers from Anton Stralman and Callahan.
Brendan Morrow provided insurance at 8:09 with his first goal as a member of the Lightning. Cedric Paquette provided the lone assist.
The lead was further padded at 13:53 when Nikita Kucherov redirected Tyler Johnson's shot on the back end of a double minor high sticking call against Clarke MacArthur. Jason Garrison chipped in with the secondary assist.
Ben Bishop had another good night in goal for the Lightning, stopping 26 of the 27 shots that came his way.
The Lightning will now head out for a two-game road trip to New York. They'll face the Rangers on Monday at Madison Square Garden and then shuffle of to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Tuesday. They'll return to Tampa this Thursday when they'll host the Sabres.
- The unbeaten streak of games won by the Lightning when Callahan scores a goal is now 14, dating back to his acquisition from the Rangers last spring.
- This was the second of four regular season meetings between the Senators and Lightning this season and the last game between the two teams in Tampa.
- The Lightning have 10 homes wins this season, now tied with the Los Angeles KIngs for most in the NHL.
- Stamkos has scored in 13 of his last 15 games (nine goals, 11 assists).
- Callhan has picked up 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his last 11 games
- J-son has 22 points in his last 21 games, with five goals and 17 assists.
- Killorn extended his personal career-best scoring streak to seven games (five goals, three assists).
- Kucherov has nine goals so far this season, the same amount he tallied in 52 games last season.
- The Lightning honored Cindy Roberts as the 13th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Roberts, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to C.O.P.S (Concerns of Police Survivors), Gold Shield Foundation, Frankie's Friends, Tampa Crossroads, and Tampa Bay Regional. In August 2009, Roberts was faced with the death of her husband, Corporal Michael Roberts of the Tampa Police Department, killed in the line of duty. Having experienced the grief of losing a loved one and consequently taken on the new role of a single parent, Roberts decided to make her story a testimony to other police survivors that there is hope to make it through. She became involved with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S), a national organization providing resources to help rebuild the lives of surviving families and co-workers of police who have died in the line of duty. Roberts was recently named President of the organization's West Central Florida Chapter last year. In her role as President, she serves over 300 surviving families across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Roberts is dedicated to growing the chapter and ensuring that surviving families are provided with the proper support needed after experiencing a loss in the line of duty.