The Tampa Bay Lightning got out to a slow start against the Calgary Flames, the Western Conference’s best team, but came back and eventually won the game in a shootout. Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn, and Dan Girardi scored for the Lightning in regulation, and J.T. Miller finished off the game in the shootout to earn a 5-4 victory.
Louis Domingue had an up-and-down night. He was caught giving up some weak goals, and left his net for a little too long, but ultimately fought back massively in the extra time to give his team the win.
Some milestones to pass along:
-Stamkos skated in his 700th career regular season game in the NHL (all for the Lightning, of course). The Captain has dressed in the blue and white (and black with some yellow mixed in) well over 800 times once one counts 66 playoff games and potentially dozens of preseason games.
-To help further Stammer’s legacy with the club, he also scored his 366th goal of his career, passing Martin St. Louis for SECOND in franchise history. He’s only 17 away from tying Vincent Lecavalier for first all-time.
--After last night, Stammer is 148 points away from MSL for the franchise lead in points with 5+ years left on his contract.
Point and Kucherov can play with anyone, but Palat might be the perfect linemate for them. He’s a tenacious forechecker and defensively-sound player who creates chaos in front of the net. On the first goal of the game, Palat took Calgary’s best defender Mark Giordano out of the play, leaving Kucherov and Point to roam wherever they wanted. Kucherov got himself a great chance from the slot that got past David Rittich, but it required Palat — who was causing chaos in front of the net — to fully get it across the line.
Rookie Erik Cernak got caught on the wrong side of the ice, allowing
Lanny MacDonald Sam Bennett to get a clean shot off on Domingue. Louis made the first stop, mostly, but the puck squirted out behind him and Bennett capitalized.
I would’ve liked to have seen Cernak box Bennett out of the crease after he missed the initial shot, as he didn’t tie up his man or stick very well at all. Live and learn, I guess.
Shots were 2-7 before the goal. The Bolts weren’t able to leave the zone for a few shifts and it cost them. A cross-ice pass got deflected into the slot, and Sean Monahan got to it before Braydon Coburn and scored. For a defensive defender like Coburn, he should’ve been more aware of where his opponents were on the ice and know when he was going to have to fight for a puck. He got caught puck-watching and trying to play the pass instead of the man.
Domingue bobbled a bouncing puck, all the Bolts freaked out and spread across the ice, which left the front of the net open for Mikael Backlund. Seriously, all of Coburn, Girardi, Adam Erne, and Anthony Cirelli went chasing the puck rather than covering their positions. The shutdown line and pair need to have a lot more composure than that.
That Girardi-Coburn pairing was really bad in the first period. They were slow. They couldn’t keep up with Calgary’s forwards, especially in front of the net. They let their opponents get on the inside of them and get some grade-A chances, including two goals against. Coburn and Girardi gave up nine and 11 shot attempts against, respectively, in that period each. The worst among defenseman in the period, although none were good. The Lightning got out-shot 8-12 in the period alone.
I initially thought Adam Erne started and finished this play, but it was actually Stamkos’ shot that bounced off a few sticks and into the back of the net. The goal was Stamkos’ 366th of his career, passing Martin St. Louis for second all-time. In his 700th game, to boot!
Nevertheless, he should probably give Erne something nice for his incredible effort on the play leading up to the milestone goal. Erne burst through the neutral zone, grabbed the puck from Kucherov, and set up Stamkos for a wide open slapshot. Erne has been incredibly quick in his short stint since Joseph left the lineup. He works really hard, and it pays off well. I wonder if he’s not the one to leave the lineup when the french rookie returns.
Rittich gave up a big rebound from a Ryan McDonagh shot, and after a few hacks at the puck by Killorn and Yanni Gourde, Killer got it to go in. It was a well-earned goal all-around. McDonagh did a great job of getting the shot through. It wasn’t an easy task because he had a winger right in his face. The Lightning got a little lucky with Rittich’s poor rebound control, but both Gourde and Killorn were in the perfect position to take advantage without the Flames defensemen getting in the way.
Cernak took an early-period tripping penalty, but the Lightning took advantage of their strong penalty kill to settle themselves into the game. Stamkos’ goal came seconds after killing the Cernak penalty, and that momentum carried forward to Killorn’s goal, which pushed the play more in Tampa Bay’s favor. This allowed them to draw three more penalties heading into the third.
I don’t have much to say about the third period other than this:
Why did Louis Domingue think it was a good idea to body check a guy behind the net??????— Frosty the SnowLad ☃️ (@HardevLad) December 21, 2018
Girardi made up for his first period mistakes by tying the game with a little more than four minutes left in regulation. He wired a slapshot through an open lane and beat Rittich to the top corner cleanly. Looking back at the replay, I though Cirelli or someone got in the way of Rittich’s view — nope. It was a clean shot from the point. Wow!
On a broken play, Johnny Gaudreau got a loose puck in the neutral zone, zipped by both Girardi and Victor Hedman, and deked the puck through Domingue’s five-hole, tying the game once again.
The Lightning regained the shot advantage in the second, and were able to keep things mostly even throughout the third period. They were very close to completing the comeback in regulation, but a moments hesitation from Hedman and Girardi allowed Gaudreau to lock the two sides back on even terms.
The extra period solved nothing, but Domingue definitely regained some much-needed confidence, stopping all seven shots he faced. Monahan had two or three, and all were in prime scoring position. Domingue stoned him cold, forcing a shootout.
Louis Domingue steals one in OT pic.twitter.com/4PdoPU7xFi— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 21, 2018
Mathew Tkachuk - STOPPED BY DOMINGUE WITH THE GLOVE
Victor Hedman - SNIPES ON RITTICH TOP CHEESE GLOVE SIDE
Sean Monahan - scores top shelf on the glove as well...
Brayden Point - lost the puck on the entry and couldn’t find a hole on the blocker side...
James Neal - STOPPED BY DOMINGUE’S PAD
Nikita Kucherov - tries the toe drag but slides the puck wide...
Johnny Gaudreau - TRIED TO DEKE LEFT BUT RAN OUT OF ROOM
Steven Stamkos - EVADES THE POKE CHECK....but backhands the puck too high...
Elias Lindholm - DEKES AND IS STOPPED BY DOMINGUE
Anthony Cirelli - tries to go five-hole and is stopped...
Noah Hanifin - STOPPED BY DOMINGUE WITH THE LEFT PAD
Tyler Johnson - goes left but misses the backhand wide
Mark Jankowski - STOPPED BY THE RIGHT TOE OF DOMINGUE
J.T. Miller - SNIPES RIGHT ON RITTICH AND WINS THE GAME FOR THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING!!!!