On a night in which a former Tampa Bay Lightning captain, Vincent Lecavalier, was honored, current captain Steven Stamkos was the hero who extended a game that looked as if it was going to slip away. And fittingly, up-and-coming Lightning forward Brayden Point was the hero who won it in the shootout.
The Lightning had a much better start than the previous two games of the season. They came out and utilized their speed well in the first period, creating great chances against a young Florida Panthers' defense. While the teams exchanged some chances during the first period, including a heroic save by Ben Bishop on a shot that almost leaked through his pads, the game remained scoreless heading into the intermission.
The second period started off a little rough for the Bolts, as Ondrej Palat turned the puck over on the power play and Anton Stralman got stuck in the offensive zone to spring the Cats in on a 2-on-1. Panthers forward Colton Sceviour cashed in for a shorthanded goal on an assist by Derek MacKenzie at 2:38.
The Lightning were able to push back a little bit, and Alex Killorn continued to prove he is worth his new seven-year contract when he tied it up at 6:18. Nikita Kucherov stripped the Panthers of the puck behind the net and fed it to Killorn, who was waiting down low to slap it past Florida goaltender James Reimer.
Then, at 16:21, some mayhem that would rival the intensity of an Allstate commercial ensued in front of Reimer. Ondrej Palat was the beneficiary of the mayhem, scoring on a roof shot after scooping up the puck near the paint.
While the Bolts were strong on the penalty kill, as evidenced going into the third period, they struggled heavily on the power play. That will surely be something to work on in practice going forward.
Minutes after goaltender Ben Bishop made an incredible glove save on a stretched Jussi Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck cashed in on a tough play where Bishop lost sight of the puck. The goal to tie the score at 2-2, scored at 5:26 of the third period, was assisted by Jokinen and Reilly Smith.
It looked as if the Lightning were going to let this game slip away when Florida defenseman Michael Matheson scored at 15:52 to put the Panthers up 3-2.
Steven Stamkos was the hero, though, scoring from an unbelievable angle with only six seconds remaining. Victor Hedman fed the puck from the point down to Stamkos, who looked to be at an impossible position for the goal. Valtteri Filppula picked up the secondary assist.
Beautiful goal by Stamkos ties it with 5 seconds left in regulation pic.twitter.com/lJq2Q2C0rE— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 19, 2016
The Lightning went through the 3-on-3 overtime period unable to get much of anything on James Reimer. This included a 4-on-3 power play which generated zero shots.
The shootout is where the real fun was, in the form of a controversial call by the League. After Jonathan Drouin scored his first career shootout goal, Vincent Trocheck's shot would have been the final chance for the Panthers to stay in the game.
After whiffing on his initial shot attempt, Trocheck scooped the puck and shot it past Bishop, who had already been celebrating another Bolts victory.
this should not count IMO, but it does pic.twitter.com/yawJFXleL3— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 19, 2016
The on-ice officials and League officials in Toronto deliberated for a few moments and determined that the puck had remained in a forward motion, which made the second shot attempt legal.
Luckily, young Lightning forward Brayden Point would go on to register his first game winning goal to seal the deal for the Bolts.
- I'll say it; the power play was awful. Both teams went 0/3 with the man advantage tonight.
- The Lightning announced it was their 59th consecutive sellout.
- Though Brayden Point registered his first GWG, he actually does not get credit in the goal column.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning welcomed former captain Vincent Lecavalier back to Tampa with a pre-game ceremony, which included a video montage and a ceremonial puck drop.
- The line that stood out most for me was Filppula's line, alongside Vlad Namestnikov and Brayden Point. They had some great speed, generating what I thought to be some of the most dangerous scoring chances for the Lightning.