The Tampa Bay Lightning might have broken the Ottawa Senators. Seriously, how can a team experience what they have in the past calendar year, then lose 9-2 to BUFFALO, before having a moment of pure joy be ripped out of their hands, not once but twice.
That is how this game went.
Looking at it from the Bolts’ angle, because that’s what we care about here, this game was a glimpse into the present created by the future. Rookie Mathieu Joseph scored his first career NHL goal, tying the contest early in the third period, and Brayden Point finished it off, like every leader does, with two daggers within a span of 40 seconds in the third and overtime.
Anthony Cirelli was instrumental for the Lightning all game; he was second, only to linemate Alex Killorn, in terms of scoring chances on the night, and he was the key to Joseph’s first goal of his career. A better third-line center you will rarely find in the NHL these days. Yes, I said it.
*Glares at Toronto and Pittsburgh*
The first five minutes were fairly tame. Both teams looked like they were trying to ease their fatigued legs from last night into the action. As the period got on, Mikhail Sergachev was forced to take an interference penalty while defending a 2-on-1 because J.T. Miller lost the puck at the blueline.
And just like Saturday night against Montreal, the Lightning gave up the opening goal of the game. Bobby Ryan snapped a one-timer from Mark Stone past a sprawling Louis Domingue. This is the fifth straight time that the Lightning have given up the first goal in a game. They are 2-2-0 during that streak before this game.
The Lightning started to really pick up the pace after the first goal, but Craig Anderson might’ve put on his mean face after Saturday’s shellacking. Cirelli tried to get the Bolts back into the game on a breakaway started by a great pass from Slater Koekkoek but Anderson stopped him cold with the blocker.
Chris Tierney took a hooking penalty in the offensive zone on the forecheck, but the power play that followed was completely ruined by the Senators. Kucherov took a hooking penalty of his own, but before the penalty was called, the Senators killed off all but 10 seconds of the Tierney penalty by holding the puck and minimizing the amount of 4-on-4 time. Matt Duchene was the mastermind of this tactic and it really paid off in the end, much to the chagrin of the Lightning.
Oh, dear. Maxime Lajoie scored the Sens’ second power play goal on as many tries within seconds of the Kucherov penalty. The Lightning’s defense was simply not good enough on the PK. They allowed too many cross-crease passes right through their legs. Domingue didn’t have a chance on either goal.
The Lightning were out-played in that period and broke down when the Senators pushed. However, the shot-share was much closer than the eye-test might have made us believe. In terms of even-strength shot attempts (15-21), shots (8-7), and scoring chances (6-6), the Lightning look to be very much in the game. Three goals in 40 minutes shouldn’t be hard, right?
And right away, there it is. The Sens had two good chances early in the period, but one broken stick and another whiffed shot later, and the Lightning were off on a 4-on-2 break. Yanni Gourde centered the puck for Ryan Callahan in front of the net. He was stopped, but Cedric Paquette got two more chances at the rebound, and eventually scored.
Noted marketable star Mark Borowiecki body-slammed Cirelli onto the ice off a faceoff completely away from the play and was called for interference. The Lightning looked a lot better on the power play than the first time, but that was a pretty low bar to surpass. It wasn’t until the last 15 seconds or so before they really got anything going, but Gourde and Steven Stamkos each got a chance.
Mathieu Joseph was jumping all game. He was able to skate through the defense and into great scoring areas with his speed and shiftiness. He has amazing hockey sense in transition and getting the puck into the offensive zone. I’m still astounded that he hadn’t scored until tonight (oh yeah, spoiler alert). Once he gets going, he’ll be something big, I know it.
The early goal was a good morale boost for the Lightning, they looked much better in the second than they did in the first. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get another goal in the frame. Callahan was all over the offensive zone, he got a few great chances right in front of Anderson’s net. Domingue only had to face eight shots in the period, but he looked solid on all of them.
On the whole, the Lightning out-shot the Sens in all categories at even-strength: shot-attempts (29-13), shots (14-6), and scoring chances (9-5). Those are some pretty big margins.
MATHIEU JOSEPH GETS HIS FIRST NHL GOAL!!
The Lightning were buzzing to start the period and Anderson was having to stand on his head just to keep his team ahead, but the dam finally broke with the kid-line. Once again, Cirelli was the one who made the play to create the goal. The line was cycling and Cirelli saw an opening to jump down the slot. He and Joseph burst into the gaping hole created by the confused Sens defense, and a quick pass by Anton Stralman later, the puck was in the net. A true beauty for his first!
The reaction from Twitter was about as good as you would’ve hoped.
THROWING MY COUCH OUT THE WINDOW— Alan (@loserpoints) November 5, 2018
Mathieu Joseph— Daniel Walcott (@WallyD19) November 5, 2018
JOSEPH FIRST CAREER NHL GOAL pic.twitter.com/qrijGchIsG— Justin Bellantese (@justin_bell810) November 5, 2018
Just when you thought things couldn’t get crazier, things went nuts.
The Lightning’s first line was in the offensive zone for what like felt forever, utterly exhausting the Sens. Kucherov and Duchene got into some kind of fight along the boards as the shift was ending, and there was a delayed penalty call. Most of the players seemed to think the play had been blown dead but then the camera quickly panned to Stone and Tierney on an odd-man break the other way. Tierney gave the puck to a trailing Cody Ceci who deked Domingue and scored. The Sens were getting pounded into the ground for more than half the night, but with that goal, Ottawa was electric. With 4:41, the Sens were up 3-2.
Mikkel Boedker took a slashing penalty with less than two minutes left, sending the Lightning on a last-gasp power play. Brayden Point got a puck to the face minutes earlier, but he toughed it out and was on the ice for the end of the game. Stamkos and Kucherov both hammered shots at the net, but the Sens defense and Anderson stood tall.
GOD BLESS BRAYDEN POINT! THE KID SCORES WITH 26.4 SECONDS LEFT IN THE THIRD PERIOD, TYING THE GAME FOR THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING! I HOPE ALAN HAS INSURANCE ON HIS LIVING ROOM BECAUSE I WANT TO DEMOLISH HIS HOUSE AFTER THAT GOAL! WOOOOO!!!!!!
WOW OK— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) November 5, 2018
AND 14 SECONDS INTO OVERTIME, YANNI GOURDE COMPLETES THE COMEBACK, WINNING THE GAME FOR THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING. Massive credit to Point again for creating this goal from his own zone. The officials checked for goalie interference by Point, but the goal stood. What a thrill ride.
- I’m going to come out and say it, the better team tonight won. Full credit to the Senators for making it a close game and bending without breaking for as long as they did, but the Lightning were just too good and broke them in a 40-second span following over half an hour of great hockey.
- Louis Domingue wasn’t the best goalie tonight, but that was only because he didn’t have to be. The defense failed him on the two early goals, but Domingue kept his team in it long enough to gain that momentum and earn enough time to eventually break Craig Anderson (who was outstanding in front of a buckling skater group in front of him).
- The Comeback Kids are real. Anthony Cirelli owned the ice when he was out there, and he was instrumental in getting Mathieu Joseph his well-deserved first goal. That line is dynamic, and with a year under their belt, will be a big X-Factor in May and June.
- I swear, Brayden Point would be the captain of this team if Steven Stamkos didn’t exist. The kid leads this team all over the ice, and he’s always there when the team needs him most. No one was sure whether Point would be able to return after cutting his face on a puck with three minutes left in the game. He sure showed everyone, and thank god he did.