For the second day in a row, the Lightning put together a solid game against a good team. Yesterday, that resulted in a 2-1 win over the Kings. Tonight, they came out on the opposite side of the score line.
Tampa started well in the first period. They controlled the pace of the game and created some quality chances. The coaches didn’t seem committed to any particular lines or pairings and mixed up the combinations throughout the early part of the game. The first big chance came to Kucherov following a cross ice pass from Vladislav Namestnikov. Kucherov had plenty of net available on the shot but missed the net wide. He was so surprised he missed that he stood still and shook his head in disbelief as the play continued.
In the midst of Tampa’s early game dominance, they almost gave up the first goal on a nearly identical play to the only goal they allowed against the Kings. Goalie Ben Bishop once again misplayed the puck behind the net. Ryan Getzlaf recovered and it and had a wide open net for a wrap around. Fortunately for Tampa, Getzlaf wasn’t able to finish and the game remained tied.
Anaheim took two penalties in the first period. The Lightning didn’t generate a shot on net on the first power play but did move the puck well. The Ducks’ penalty kill broke up a couple of passes that would have led to dangerous shots. The second power play looked even better and should have ended with a goal by Valterri Filppula. But instead, Filppula missed a wide open net after a cross ice pass. The score could have easily been 2-1 Lightning at that point but instead, both teams were still scoreless.
Arguably the most impressive play by any player on either team in the first period was a stretch pass from Jonathan Drouin to Nikita Kucherov.
The things Jonathan Drouin can do with the puck are insane. Just skipped the neutral zone with a cross-ice lob pass right on the money. pic.twitter.com/rIstS6HHKv— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 18, 2017
The pass didn’t lead to a scoring opportunity but just seeing those two combine like that should be enough to make anyone want to see them get more time together at 5v5.
After neither team could finish their chances in the first period, both teams pounced on opportunities early in the second. The Lightning opened the scoring when Filppula picked up a loose puck in front of the net to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead. Nikita Nesterov set up the chance with a shot pass into the slot that bounced off of a Ducks skater. Filppula recovered the puck and finished the chance.
Less than a minute later, the Ducks tied the game on a strange play. Ben Bishop took a shot off the bottom of his mask and seemed to be having issues with his vision. He appeared to think that the puck had already been cleared and stood up to adjust his mask. Unfortunately, the puck was still in the zone and Ryan Getzlaf stole a bad pass from Cedric Paquette and shot the puck into the open net.
After giving up the goal, the Lightning regained control of the game. They consistently outshot the Ducks and the gap in the quality of chances was even more significant. The Bolts frequently got into dangerous areas and generated several dangerous scoring opportunities but were not able to finish. The Ducks were not able to do the same and settled for shots from the outside. They did create some scrambles in front of the net and deflections but the Lightning largely controlled the flow of the game. Despite that, they weren’t able to regain the lead and the second period ended with the teams still tied 1-1.
In the third, the Ducks played much better than they did in the first two periods. They closed the gap in shots and created several scrums in front of Ben Bishop where they looked close to scoring. Anaheim got a chance on the power play after Luke Witkowski took a high sticking penalty. They continued to apply pressure but Bishop held strong and the skaters did just enough to help him keep the puck out of the net.
Following the penalty, Anaheim maintained control of the game spending long stretches in the Tampa zone. The flow of play resembled the third period from the previous day against the Kings with the obvious difference that the Bolts were not defending a lead.
With under eight minutes to go in the game, Anaheim found themselves on the power play again after Ben Bishop was called for a questionable delay of game for sending the puck over the boards while under pressure from Corey Perry behind the net. The Lightning penalty kill did a better job on their second opportunity of the period limiting the chances against Bishop and forcing the Ducks to regroup several times.
After killing the second penalty, the Lightning played their best stretch of hockey in the period. The Boyle-Filppula-Drouin line had a dominant shift with Nesterov-Stralman. All five players kept the puck in the offensive zone and repeatedly tested Anaheim goalie John Gibson. Both Stralman and Nesterov played aggressively at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone and maintain the attack. The work didn’t lead to a goal but it did reestablish the Bolts in the game after Anaheim had controlled much of the period.
Tampa dominated the final four minutes but were unable to take the lead. The best chance came when Kucherov sprang Drouin on a rush down the right side. Drouin’s initial shot was blocked by Josh Manson but he recovered the puck and almost beat Gibson on the second chance. After that play, both teams seemed willing to head to overtime.
The 3v3 started poorly for the Lightning. Less than a minute into the overtime, Tyler Johnson fell carrying the puck into the offensive zone and gave up the puck for a 2 on 1 going back toward Ben Bishop. Johnson committed a penalty to slow the rush but put Tampa on the penalty kill. Immediately off the ensuing faceoff, Rickard Rakell picked up the loose puck and beat Bishop to give the Ducks the second point.
While the Lightning would obviously prefer to a win a game where they were clearly the better team and outshot the Ducks 52-32 at 5v5, starting the road trip with 3 out of 4 points on a back-to-back against two good teams is a positive sign. They’ll need to continue to get points at this pace if they hope to make up ground in the standings. Their next opportunity to do so will be in San Jose on Thursday night.