This was a night that had lots of positives and lots of negatives. Although this was some of the most consistent, well put together hockey the Tampa Bay Lightning have played within the last few months, the Bolts also lost Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, and Vladislav Namestnikov to lower-body injuries. And that plain sucked.
1st Period 2-0
The Bolts found themselves with the man-advantage rather early. Seconds into the power play after a faceoff win by Tyler Johnson, the puck was kicked out to Victor Hedman. Hedman then found Nikita Kucherov at the top of the right circle and through an odd double screen by Ondrej Palat and Johnson, found the back of the net.
Immediately after. Luke Witkowski got called for roughing after some shoving with Ryan White, and the Wild ended up on the their first power play. The Lightning to put together some key saves and blocks, and were able to get the kill.
Later in the period some vintage Tampa Bay Lightning hockey occurred — and by vintage I mean yesteryear’s fast pass, a great passing play. A rush by Brayden Point and Adam Erne set up some zone time. Point then passed to Hedman, who took the puck up the slot. Decisively taking his time, Hedman’s shot went wide after a block. Later on in the same shift, Hedman eventually rang off a shot from the left circle and netted his thirteenth goal of the season, continuing an excellent season for him.
Andrei Vasilevskiy came up big multiple times late in the frame. Anton Stralman went for a hit in center ice but was unable to connect. The Wild went on a fast break but through some aggression, which seemed to be a trend for Vasy tonight, Vasy was able to make the stop.
A Wild shot right after the faceoff. but Vasy was able to make a blocker save. and realizing the puck was still within the crease, hit the puck out of the air to eliminate a rebound.
2nd Period 3-0
A hook on Alex Killorn by Wild Jason Zucker allowed the Bolts to go to the power play early. Through the penalty and play after, the Lightning were able to maintain suppression. However shortly after, one of two major injuries occurred for the Bolts.
The puck wound up sitting in the center of the zone. Vladislav Namestnikov skated in and took the shot but couldn’t finish. During the ensuing play, Vladdy got tangled up with Zach Parise and suffered a lower body injury. He needed help getting off the ice.
Then... ANDREJ SUSTR SCORED!
Later, Nino Niederreiter took a hit on Johnson. Johnson went down to the ice and needed help getting to the locker room.
And although Tampa Bay had two major injuries within the period, they continued to fight — which is something that the team has lacked throughout the season, continuing consistent play through adversity.
And WWE star Thaddeus Bullard was honored for his efforts to help community children.
Brayden Point received a penalty late in the second, and the Wild began the period with the man advantage. The Bolts were able to successfully get the kill.
Killorn received a great pass and was wide open, but an outstanding poke check by Devan Dubynk allowed for a stop. The period continued to be much more contested than previous frames.
Vasy stood strong through a penalty kill, but after a series of bang-up plays, Cedric Paquette injured his lower body after attempting to pull a Wild player away from a scrum.
A shorthand breakaway by Eric Staal was stopped by Vasy. Minnesota challenged the play, but the call went in Tampa’s favor. Soon after, the Wild would get their first of the night on a rebound.
Towards the end of the period the Wild went on the power play and pulled Dubynk, but again Vasy proved to be elite, making big save after big save. Through a flury of plays the Lightning were able to put the game away and quell the Wild’s attempt at a comeback.
The team finished the game with a strong showing by a newly youthful Bolts team. Will we get back any of the injured players, or is their season done?
Cooper suggested the outlook is not good for any of Johnson/Namestnikov/Paquette, "It doesn't sound encouraging for any of them''— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) March 10, 2017
Final numbers by our friend @Loserpoints.
Final numbers. Score effects took over in the 3rd but that's a solid win for TB. pic.twitter.com/BTP8VSqbka— You can call me Alan (@loserpoints) March 10, 2017
And everyone’s like... We feel it too Saima.