The Lightning came out for pregame skate featuring the same lines that they had used during morning skate, with Ben Bishop leading the team on to the ice as. Cedric Paquette was scratched, and J.T. Brown came back into the lineup. Nikita Nesterov was also scratched and replaced by the just-recalled Slater Koekkoek.
The game started off with quite a bit of excitement. Just a few shifts into the game, Calvin de Haan caught Jonathan Drouin with a high hit to the head that sent him to the dressing room. Ryan Callahan immediately went after him in defense of Drouin, drawing de Haan into a fight.
After a bit of a discussion by the referees, Callahan was given an instigator minor, major for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct that kept him out of most of the first period. DeHaan received a five-minute major for interference and a major for fighting. I expect de Haan to receive a call from the Department of Player Safety for his hit on Drouin. Drouin left the game and did not return.
With Callahan receiving the instigator minor, both teams went to 4-on-4. However, shortly into the 4-on-4, Ryan Strome batted a puck out of the air and straight over the glass giving the Lightning a 4-on-3 power play. With some nice movement, Steven Stamkos eventually set up Nikita Kucherov in the right wing circle for an empty net wrist shot. Victor Hedman got the other assist on the power play goal.
Both teams went back to 4-on-4 for a short time before Brayden Point came out of the box after servin Callahan’s instigator penalty. They had three minutes left on the major power play. Stamkos ripped a shot into the goal from the middle of the slot. However, the play was challenged by the Islanders for offsides. After video review, it was determined that Tyler Johnson was offsides on the entry and it was ruled a no goal. The Islanders then killed off the remaining penalty time.
With so much 4-on-4 and power play time in the first period, J.T. Brown and Brian Boyle didn’t make it on to the ice until seven minutes into the first period. Koekkoek only had one shift for 21 seconds, which ended after the penalties to de Haan and Callahan.
With 8:44 to go in the first period, the Lightning picked up another power play opportunity. Palat had stolen the puck in front of the net and then drew a hooking penalty. The second power play unit came out and had some good movement and a few chances. Kucherov then came down from the top of the left wing circle. It looked very casual, but then he made the decision to shoot and snapped off a shot that found a hole short side. The Lightning were then up 2-0 after two power play goals.
Less than a minute and a half later, Koekkoek took a pass from Stamkos after Kucherov got the puck to Stamkos in the middle. Koekkoek moved down from the point with his head up. He made a pass into the crease and found the stick of Stamkos crashing the net for the Lightning’s third goal of the night. Stamkos wouldn’t have that one called back by a coach’s challenge. The goal also chased Thomas Greiss from the game and Jaroslav Halak was brought in.
The rest of the period was relatively quiet, with the Lightning getting three more shots on Halak. With so much power play time, the Lightning got 14 shots on goal in the first period while only allowing four shots on goal.
The second period started off with the Lightning continuing to control the play, outshooting the Islanders 4-1 through the first six minutes of the period. Valtteri Filppula got the puck into the zone down the right wing wall. Filppula backhanded the puck into the middle with Callahan crashing down the center. Callahan drew two defenders and tapped the puck over to Boyle fresh off the bench. Boyle was wide open and used his long reach to corral the puck and backhand it to the far top corner of the net over Halak.
After the next faceoff, Travis Hamonic challenge Boyle to a fight and Boyle was ready to go. They dropped the gloves, and Boyle manhandled Hamonic. Both went off for five minutes. The penalties were a fair trade for the Lightning with Hamonic being one of the Islanders better defenders.
Kucherov then took a hooking penalty to give the Islanders their first power play opportunity of the game. With so much talent on the ice, the Islanders power play proved dangerous getting multiple good shots on net. Nick Leddy took a bomb of a slapshot from the point but missed the net. The puck bounced out into the middle of the ice in an empty area where Brown could scoop it up. Brown turned on the jets and raced up the ice with the puck. He deked back and forth and got Halak to drop down, which allowed Brown to take the puck to his forehand and put it up over Halak to extend the lead to 5-0.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to get another bounce to go their way. Filppula put a puck into the crease with Killorn and two Isles defenders getting involved. The puck bounced around and hit off an Islander player before dribbling through Halak’s legs, getting the Lightning up 6-0. The goal was originally awarded to Killorn, but later changed to Filppula. Kucherov and Koekkoek were given the assists.
Shortly after going up 6-0, Shane Prince got called for a slashing minor in the offensive zone. The Lightning started the power play off nicely with Anton Stralman hitting the post on a shot deflected by Cal Clutterbuck. With Vlad Namestnikov trying to retrieve the puck, Johnny Boychuk elbowed him in the back of the head, giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 power play.
The Islanders killed off the 5-on-3 and the rest of Boychuk’s penalty without allowing a goal to the Lightning. They also managed a 2-on-1 rush shorthanded. Hedman played his man well and forced a pass that a backchecking Namestnikov was able to deflect away into the corner and prevent a scoring chance.
Boyle took a minor for tripping with 3:53 to go in the second period. The Isles had a flurry of chances early in the power play, but couldn’t get by the brick wall of Bishop. Brown stole the puck and had another shorthanded breakaway. This time he couldn’t get it over Halak. Callahan got a stick on the rebound, but Halak was in position to stop the rebound opportunity. The Lightning killed off the penalty without mishap.
With only 30 seconds to go in the second period, the Islanders won a puck battle on the walls and got the puck to Dennis Seidenberg at the right point. Namestnikov moved out to challenge and dropped to block the puck but was unable to get a body part on it. The hard slapshot got through him and past Bishop on the farside breaking the shut out.
The second period ended with the Lightning up 6-1 and leading 30 shots to 12.
It didn’t take long for things to get physical in the third period. 2:46 into the period, Stralman had checked young Anthony Beauvillier. It wasn’t a hard hit, but Jason Chimera took exception to the hit and went after Stralman. Hedman came to his partner’s defense and ended up with a roughing minor. Chimera and Hamonic also drew roughing penalties giving the Lightning yet another power play. However, the Lightning couldn’t convert, and the score remained at 6-1.
After some back-and-forth play, Killorn took a penalty for hooking after getting his stick into the midsection of an Islander forward. The Lightning continued their solid penalty killing, not allowing any shots on goal in the first half of the power play. They finished off the penalty kill without allowing any dangerous chances to the Islanders.
On the next shift after the penalty kill, Koekkoek also got called for a hooking penalty in the defensive zone. The Lightning again were aggressive in attacking loose pucks and clearing the puck whenever they had a chance. Despite some great chances for John Tavares, Bishop stayed strong and made the saves he needed to make. The Lightning killed off the penalty without further complications.
In the last five minutes of the game, the Islanders turned it on a little bit and started creating pressure on the Lightning in their own zone. Brock Nelson got a chance all alone in front of Bishop, but Bishop closed the five-hole to deny Nelson’s shot and rebound chance.
But the penalties continued with another call after Casey Cizikas hooked Palat in the offensive zone with 1:25 to go, which gave the Lightning yet another power play chance. With the game coming to a close, Jon Cooper gave the power play to Brown, Boyle, Namestnikov, Braydon Coburn and Koekkoek. Only Namestnikov is a normal power play contributor for the Lightning. The Islanders took repeated shots at Lightning players throughout the last minute of the game. However, the refs chose not to clean it up and let them continue to the end of the game.
The Lightning came out with some energy to start the game. They were helped by all of the penalty trouble that the Islanders got into in the first period. The Lightning ended the game with 36 shots on goal and allowed 27. Fifteen of the Islanders shots came in the third period and the game was pretty much out of reach at 6-1.
After the New Jersey Devils game, Stamkos talked about how the team needed to come out better and play a more complete game. Instead, they fell flat on Sunday against the New York Rangers. This time though, Stamkos was leading the way and was in full force tonight.
Stamkos ended the night with seven shots on goal, plus five more shot attempts. Kucherov and Namestnikov were next with five shots on goal each. Other than Koekkoek, the defense’s ice time was pretty evenly spread out. Koekkoek had limited special teams play, but did get on ice during the last couple power play opportunities in the third period to give him a total of 13:12 TOI. Brayden Point also got a lot of power play time with 6:18 giving him a total of 17:27 TOI.
It seems that Point has solidified his position in the lineup. With Callahan and Kucherov both returning from injury, Brown and Paquette have split scratches the past two games. Point has remained a fixture in the middle six, now playing on the second line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.
Koekkoek had a sound night of hockey potting two assists. The first assist was the result of a smart pass in front of the net to get a redirection from Stamkos. While Nesterov’s advanced stats have looked good, it hasn’t translated into points. In his first game in, Koekkoek has already exceeded Nesterov’s season point total of... zero. Hopefully Koekkoek will continue to earn time on the homestand and Cooper will show more trust in him.
Drouin left the game after receiving a head check from de Haan. De Haan got a five-minute major for interference, but was not ejected from the game. While Drouin had his head down on the play, de Haan did little to minimize the contact and even changed his angle of attack, making Drouin’s head the main point of contact on his check. My expectation is that he will receive a one- to two-game suspension. Drouin left the game and did not return. We likely won’t know more on Drouin’s status until morning skate on Thursday.
This was a great turnaround game for the Lightning after three very disappointing games. The key will be to carry this momentum into the home stand. Next game will be Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.