The Lightning headed to Minnesota to take on a team starting their backup goaltender on the second half of a back-to-back. With the Lightning on the front end of a back-to-back, they likely felt they needed to win this one to get the most out of these first two games of a five game road trip. In the first period, they looked like a lock to do just that. But the game unraveled from there.
The first period started quickly with Minnesota putting the puck in the net just over a minute into the game. Fortunately for the Lightning, the goal didn’t count. The play started with a turnover by Victor Hedman leading to a Mikael Granlund breakaway. Andrei Vasilevskiy made the initial save but Zach Parise appeared to score on the rebound. The official immediately waved off the goal because Parise had batted the puck into the net with his glove.
From that point, the remainder of the first period was all Lightning. They nearly scored moments after the Parise non-goal. Nikita Kucherov threw the puck in front of the net and it almost deflected past Wild goalie Alex Stalock.
A couple minutes later, the Lightning did beat Stalock. Ryan Callahan scored his first goal of the season deflecting an Anton Stralman shot to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead. JT Miller picked up the second assist on the play with a pass back to Stralman at the point.
Five minutes into the period, the Lightning nearly scored again on a rush chance by Kucherov and Tyler Johnson. Kuch slid a last-second pass that led Johnson just a few inches too far for him to be able to redirect it into the net. Stalock was beaten and it could’ve easily been a 2-0 game on that play.
The next Lightning goal would come at the nine minute mark on a vintage Lightning attack. Brayden Point carried the puck through the neutral zone with speed and made a pass to Steven Stamkos. The captain fed the puck through the slot to Ryan McDonagh joining the attack late. The defender took the shot and Yanni Gourde picked up the rebound to extend the lead. That’s the type of goal we got used to seeing early last season when the Bolts looked like the best team in the league.
After the goal, Brian Engblom mentioned on the broadcast that the play looked exactly the way the team runs breakout drills in practice. Hopefully, we start to see more plays like that. Breakouts have been a problem for at least the past two seasons and seeing one come off cleanly like that was encouraging.
Minnesota got a goal back later in the period on a bad play by Andrei Vasilevskiy. He tried to play the puck behind the net but turned it over directly to Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward fed a quick pass to Charlie Coyle in the slot who beat Vasilevskiy before he could get back in front of his net and get set.
Tampa pushed the lead back to two before the end of the period adding a power play goal. JT Miller picked up his first goal of the season on a nifty play tipping a Victor Hedman shot from the high slot. Miller saw a soft spot in the Wild defense and climbed up higher in the zone look for the deflection and he beat Stalock cleanly.
The second period had less goals but no less action. Marcus Foligno scored the only goal of the period cutting the Lightning lead to one. He got a breakaway look on Vasilevskiy because Anton Stralman tried to knock down an aerial pass from Eric Fehr and whiffed on it leaving Foligno to skate in all alone.
The rest of the period was a track meet with the Wild getting the better of the chances. Multiple times they created extended period of chaos in front of the net forcing Vasilevskiy to scramble to maintain the lead. At times, even skaters had to block the puck from hitting a wide open net.
While the Wild controlled the game, the Lightning weren’t without chances. Probably their best one came when Ryan Callahan made a perfect pass from the right point to Braydon Coburn skating free to the back door. Unfortunately, Coburn wasn’t able to hit the target. And he had a lot to aim for with Stalock struggling to get across his crease.
The second period finished fairly even with both teams creating chances but not able to convert. The third period did not start the same way. The Wild took control of the game and nearly won in regulation.
The period started with a Mikhail Sergachev penalty. The Bolts were able to kill it but Anton Stralman had a scary moment after being struck in the neck by a shot. Fortunately, he didn’t miss any time and would help the team salvage a point later in the period.
The Lightning got a power play of their own a few minutes later and nearly iced the game twice. Nikita Kucherov slid a back door pass through the Wild defense to Miller who couldn’t quite connect to beat Stalock. Shortly after, Gourde, Point, and Ondrej Palat almost scored on a 3 on 2 but couldn’t quite get the passing right.
With twenty seconds left in the power play, Brayden Point committed an interference penalty. The Wild controlled the puck for the short 4 on 4 period and transitioned into the power play. The Lightning were technically able to kill the power play keeping their streak alive but the Wild scored immediately after.
Jared Spurgeon made a great play at the blue line to intercept an attempted clear by Ryan McDonagh and feed a one-time pass to Mikko Koivu in front of the net. Vasilevskiy made the initial save but the puck slide through his pads and Parise tapped in the game-tying goal.
Immediately after the goal, Foligno had another point blank chance but Sergachev managed to deflect the shot with his skate. The reprieve the play provided was short. Jason Zucker collected a rebound on the rush and beat Vasilevskiy on a slap shot from the left circle. That’s probably one the Lightning goaltender thinks he should save. And with that, the Wild took their first lead of the game and looked to be on their way to a regulation win.
Stralman salvaged a point for the Lightning with a slick backhand forehand move to beat Stalock after Eric Staal overskated the puck in the corner allowing Gourde to collect the puck and feed Stralman in the slot.
Seemingly not content to go to overtime, the Lightning allowed two breakaways in the final three minutes but the Wild couldn’t convert either. First, Zucker had a chance. And then Coyle. But neither could beat Vasilevskiy.
In overtime, the Lightning controlled play. They possessed the puck and did a good job of resetting when the Wild applied pressure. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the winning goal. Instead, Granlund scored the game winner for Minnesota on a seemingly innocuous slap shot from the right circle.
The Granlund goal, like the Zucker goal, is one Vasilevskiy is likely to feel he should have stopped. That combined with the first goal being directly due to a turnover by the Lightning goaltender means this wasn’t his strongest showing. And he wasn’t alone. Much like the rest of the team, his high points were high but his low points just as low. The Lightning were either great or terrible with little in between and ultimately that resulted in leaving Minnesota with a single point in a game where they could have had two.