After being shut out at home 4-0 by the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, the Lightning shuffled their lines and came out with a lot of energy against the Ottawa Senators. This was the first time the Lightning have faced former head coach Guy Boucher as he returned from a stint in Europe with SC Bern to take the head coaching job with the Senators.
During the morning skate, head coach Jon Cooper had greatly mixed up the lines after the 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. During the pre-game line rushes, the lines were the same as they had been when the Lightning started the game against Colorado. Cooper then sent Cedric Paquette, Brian Boyle, and J.T. Brown out to start the game, which was not a line during morning skate.
However, we soon saw the actual line changes. The fourth line stayed the same as it had been with Paquette, Boyle, and Brown. The first line saw Vladislav Namestnikov, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov lined up together. The second line was made up of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin. The only change on the third line was Alex Killorn on the left wing for Valtteri Filppula and Brayden Point.
Throughout much of the first period, the Lightning controlled the play. Through 16 minutes of play, the Senators had only managed 2 shots on goal while the Lightning had 12 shots. Every line for the Lightning was getting chances. The success was not limited to just one or two lines.
Brian Boyle left the game late in the first period after taking a stick to the face. The replay showed that Senators goaltender Craig Anderson caught him up high while swinging his stick around from behind him. The high stick went uncalled by the referees. Boyle returned for the second period.
goalie stick to the face for Boyle pic.twitter.com/etY8xfvcw9— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 22, 2016
The first period ended scoreless with the Lightning leading shots 14 to 4 and no penalties being called. Five Bolts were tied with two shots a piece: Killorn, Drouin, Namestnikov, Stamkos, and Anton Stralman. Forward line TOI was also pretty evenly spread without any special teams play. Brown was the lowest at 4:07 with Stamkos the highest at 6:09. On the blue line, the story was pretty much the same with Sustr the lowest with 5:47 and Hedman leading with 8:17.
The Senators gave up the first penalty of the game when Cody Ceci got called for high sticking Drouin. The Lightning struck quick just 11 seconds in to the power play. Stralman took a shot from the point that Palat deflected, and then the puck bounced off Namestnikov and into the net. The assist to Stralman was his first on the year and 150th in his career.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to get their second goal of the night as Stralman drew a hooking call while entering the zone. After an attempt by Kucherov and a scramble, Namestnikov collected the puck and passed it across to Stamkos for a one timer. However, Ottawa would challenge the goal for offsides as Tyler Johnson was close to being offsides as the puck entered the zone. However, Toronto confirmed that the play was onside and it was ruled a good goal.
The Lightning gave up two penalties in a row, but were able to kill off both. However, that sequence gave Ottawa some momentum and they were able to get on the board with a greasy goal from the hated Chris Neil. Neil put the puck on net and Vasilevskiy made the save. The puck bounced out in front of him and Garrison tried to put the puck under Vasilevskiy. The puck squirted out behind him and Neil was able to get his stick around and put the puck in before Hedman could tuck it under Vasilevskiy.
The second half of the period saw the momentum swing very heavily towards Ottawa’s favor as the chart from HockeyStats.ca below shows. The two power plays and the Neil goal gave them new life and it took some time for the Lightning to get off their heels. The second period came to and end with the Lightning up 2-1, but Ottawa had closed the gap in shots on goal by outshooting the Lightning 16-8. The period ended with the Lightning up in shots 22-20.
The third period started out a bit more evenly with a back and forth flow. The Lightning got their third power play of the game as Brown got pulled down trying to split the D. While the Lightning generated chances on the power play, they failed to get an insurance goal.
The Filppula line with Killorn and Point came on at the end of the power play and the game went to a commercial break after an offside play. Their line stayed out after the commercial break and Killorn found the back of the net on the far side after a nice set up from Filppula.
While the Lightning gave Ottawa some life with a holding call on Namestnikov, the play remained fairly even for much of the middle part of the third period. With only two minutes to play, Brayden Point intercepted the puck just outside of his own blue line and passed the puck up to Filppula who had just come off the bench. Filppula came down the right wing side all alone and roofed the puck over Anderson to give the Lightning a 4-1 lead and the final score.
This was a great bounce-back game after getting shut out by Colorado. The Lightning dominated during the first period even though they couldn’t find the back of the net. They’ll have to wait another game to see if they can break their drought of first period goals. However, this was the first game of the season where they had scored first.
The new lines looked good and I expect we’ll see them continue into next game. The beginning of the season is always a mix and match situation until the right lines are found. While they’re hot, coaches runs with them. If they get cooled down, coaches break them up and try something new until they find something that works.
Vasilevskiy was sound tonight. He made a lot of great saves to keep the Lightning in it and to not let the momentum shift in the second period. The one goal he let in was the result of some hard work by Chris Neil and a little bit of bad luck with the puck squirting through him. Otherwise, he had a fantastic night.
Tyler Johnson led all Lightning forwards with 19:03 time on ice. Hedman led the defense with 22:51. The top three forward lines for the Lightning were pretty evenly spread out with Brayden Point continuing to get in the 14 minute range. The defense was also rolled pretty well and Coach Bowness kept Hedman’s minutes manageable to keep him fresh for this extended road trip.
Next up, the Lightning will travel to Toronto and take on the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. We’ll be back live tweeting the game on Twitter along with the Preview, Game Day Thread for discussions, and a recap of (hopefully) another Lightning win.