There's only one Opening Night, the only game all season whose outcome leaves a team either winless or undefeated. Does it set a tone for the remainder of a long season that hopefully leads to a lengthy trek through the postseason? Yes! Maybe. Probably not (Calling it now: Jason Garrison will not score 164 goals... probably). Regardless, it's always better to win it than lose it.
19,092 fans were on hand to see the Lightning raise the banner commemorating last season's Eastern Conference championship and witness the Lightning rally from a 2-1 deficit before winning 3-2 in the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime format.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop fended off a penalty shot from Claude Giroux at 13:47 of the first after Ondrej Palat hooked him on a breakaway. The period ended in a scoreless tie.
At 1:25 of the second, the Lightning notched the first goal of the game on a long-distance shot from Jason Garrison from just inside the blue line. Ryan Callahan and Jonathan Drouin picked up assists.
The Flyers tied the game at 10:14 on a goal from Matt Read, assisted by Scott Laughton and R.J. Umberger.
They took the lead just under two minutes later at when Brayden Schenn scored at 12:03. Umberger and Evgeny Medvedev chipped in with helpers.
Callahan tied the game again at 18:22, scoring with assistance from Victor Hedman and Drouin.
After two periods, the teams were tied at two, which would be the case when the third period ended as well.
Fans got their first look at the brand-new 3-on-3 overtime format, and witnessed first-hand everything that people are going to love and hate about it; namely the wide-open skating and all the end-to-end rushes that result.
At 1:27 of the extra period, Bishop turned away his second penalty shot of the game, this time denying Laughton who had been slashed by Tyler Johnson on a breakaway attempt.
Just 50 seconds later, Garrison ended the game on a breakaway of his own, beating Philadelphia netminder Steve Mason thanks to assists from Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula.
- The Lightning have now won four consecutive home openers.
- This was the first regular season NHL game to use the 3-on-3 overtime format.
- Tampa Bay has now won seven of their last eight meetings with Philadelphia, and 14 of the last 18 going back to the 2010-11 season. During that stretch, they've posted a 9-0-1 record at home.
- The Lightning set a franchise record with 32 wins at home last season, compiling an NHL-best 32-8-1 home record.
- The Lightning are 25-3-0 when Callahan scores since he was acquired in March of 2014.
- Steven Stamkos led the Lightning in goals against the Flyers last season, netting four and adding an assist.
- In spite of winning two of three matchups last season against Philadelphia, the L were actually outscored in the three games 11-10.
- Former Lightning hero Vincent Lecavalier was a healthy scratch.
- Ben Bishop made his second consecutive opening night start (and the second of his career) for Tampa Bay tonight,
- Stamkos needs two points to reach the 500 mark for his career.
- Killorn posted the 99th point of his career.
- The Lightning honored Jose Valiente as the first Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Valiente, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Junior Achievement and the Boy Scouts of America. The Lightning Foundation continues the hero program for its fifth season of a pledge made by Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik in 2010 to donate $10 million over five seasons. As Chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Valiente was a driving force behind implementing a drop-out prevention program for eighth grade classrooms throughout Hillsborough County known as Diploma-See Day. Dipoloma-See Day is devoted exclusively to learning about the value of a high school diploma and post-secondary education, along with the doors it can open to economic opportunity. 24,949 Tampa Bay Youth have learned the value of education to help them realize their hopes and dreams through a partnership between Junior Achievement and Hillsborough Public Schools. As a result of his tireless effort to improve the Bay area, Valiente initiated the Latin Scholarship Fund, which awards 125 scholarships annually and has awarded $4.1 million in state-matching funds. Valiente sees adversity and challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and overcome. He sees Diploma-See Day as a part of his legacy to the Tampa Bay community. Valiente's long-range goal is for Tampa Bay to become the most highly educated community and work force in the country, attracting other employers, workers, scholars and entrepreneurs to the community.