If you’re a fan of maximum chaos and goals galore, then this game was for you. If you’re a defensively minded person who prefers low-scoring low-event games, then you hated it. Tthe Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 in a wild game that saw the Lightning cede a three goal lead in the third period before securing the win in overtime.
The first eight minutes of the period were largely back-and-forth. Neither team could effectively establish consistent zone time until the Johnson-Kucherov-Point line pinned the Flyers in the defensive zone around minute eight. Unfortunately, that pressure ended up biting Tampa Bay as Tyler Johnson was called for a hooking penalty at 8:20.
Philadelphia proceeded to pepper Andrei Vasilevskiy on the mad advantage, and once again we were shown how absurd Vasilevskiy can be.
How does Vasilevskiy keep doing this?!? pic.twitter.com/GDXcHNK5x4— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 28, 2018
He’s done some kind of bizarre leg thing three times this season—all after his return from injury. Vasilevskiy isn’t human.
The Lightning managed to kill the penalty, but Philadelphia wasn’t done. The Flyers continued to press the attack and were eventually rewarded for their efforts.
Travis Sanheim’s shot hits Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl’s sticks and elegantly floats past Vasilevskiy. There was little Tampa Bay could do here. The goal did little to effect the Bolts as they began to apply pressure on the Flyers defense before finally breaking through 2:54 later.
The biggest thing everyone should take note of is how the Flyers defended against this. Watch Claude Giroux motion toward a Lightning player (Kucherov) as he aims to cover behind Point. The issue the teammate he is trying to talk to, Dale Weise, is not paying attention to him. Giroux went ahead and did what he planned to do instead of accounting for Weise just not paying attention. That was why Kucherov was that wide open to bury the one-timer.
After Kucherov’s goal, the Lightning began to find their groove in the offensive zone. They repeatedly pinned the Flyers and created chances. It eventually led to a hooking penalty on Sanheim that gave the Lightning their first power-play of the game.
It might’ve taken the Lightning nearly the entire man advantage to score, but converting is converting no matter how you do it.
A Stamkos one-timer is denied, but the rebound goes right back to the Captain. Stamkos feeds a pass to Point in the slot, but Yanni Gourde’s leg blocks the shot. The rebound rolls back to Point who buries the second chance since no Flyers defender is bothering to touch him. I’m not sure how teams are going to reliably defend against this power play once they’re setup. They can score from three different areas, and this is with Victor Hedman willingly not shooting from the point.
The first period closed out with some fisticuffs between Anthony Cirelli and Nolan Patrick. Cirelli was apparently ticked off from a previous hit and didn’t take too kindly to Patrick giving him a push. They both sat for the remainder of the period and for the first 4:27 of the second.
Tampa Bay started the period like they ended the previous one; aggressive and fast on the forecheck. They recorded four shots in the three minutes before Philadelphia got their first. However, the Flyers did manage to tie it up at 4:36 with this beauty of a goal from Claude Giroux.
Good lord, that’s a gorgeous goal. Take note of Giroux’s stick lift of McDonagh as he skates past him. That small move gave Giroux just enough time and space to recover the puck freely and blow right by McDonagh. Hell of a move here by Flyers captain. It helps that McDonagh was caught flat footed and had no chance to stop Giroux once he turned his hips. But this goal is 100% Giroux making everyone on the ice look dumb.
For some reason, Jon Cooper decided to challenge this goal for being offside. I saw three replay angles and none of them were close to conclusive. I’m not sure what the Lightning coaching staff saw, but this failed challenge put the Lightning in the precarious position of killing a penalty right after Philadelphia tied the game. Luckily, the Lightning managed to kill it with relative ease and began to push play back into the Philadelphia zone.
If there was one area that the Lightning did struggle this evening, it was getting consistent pressure in the slot. Philadelphia was clearly aiming at limiting their ability to pass or skate through the slot and it caused a plethora of chances to be negated. Though, when you have the forward talent that Tampa Bay does the best thing to do is to just try and try again until it pays off.
First, Stamkos literally goes in a circle. Second, why wasn’t there a single Flyers defender even paying attention to a player with 370 goals in 700 games? This goal gave Stamkos the most goals in a month by a Lightning player in franchise history with 14 (surpassing Martin St. Louis’ 13 from January 2004).
It took Stamkos 2:31 to extend his goal scoring streak to 15 in his last 13 games.
The power play came from a delay of game penalty by Andrew MacDonald. This is Steven Stamkos being Steven Stamkos folks. He’s been on a torrid pace over the last 13 games.
Philadelphia pushed back after the second Stamkos goal, but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances. Tampa Bay would extend their lead to three goals with Tyler Johnson’s 17th on the season.
What this replay doesn’t show is how long the Lightning had the puck in the offensive zone prior to the goal. They repeatedly played cat-and-mouse with Philadelphia’s defenders and moved the puck around the zone with ease. Now, the goal was a fluke—make no bones about it. But as you’ll see in the third period (and the first Philadelphia goal), fluke goals were en vogue this evening.
Philadelphia stormed back by scoring three goals in 8:38. We’ll go through these one by one.
It bounces off Weise’s skate and through Vasilevskiy’s five-hole. There was a momentary delay to see if he kicked it in, but the officials deemed it not a distinct kicking motion (I agree). The play obviously caught Vasilevskiy off guard, but that’s hockey sometimes.
See that player standing in front of Vasilevskiy blocking his vision? See the player in the blue jersey next to him doing nothing to move him? That’s why this goal happened. Vasilevskiy didn’t even know where the shot went before it went in. Say it with me now, “MOVE PEOPLE OUT OF THE GOALTENDER’S LINE OF SIGHT!”
That was Stamkos’ responsibility since the player he pinched towards, Jackub Voracek, was already tied up with Anton Stralman. Nonetheless, Vasilevskiy was just plain beat here. He had time to set up for the shot and came out to cut the angle. Ivan Provorov just picked his spot and wired this one home.
The remainder of the third saw Philadelphia garner 60% of the shots at even strength and make the Lightning look like a mess of a team. Thanks to the play of Vasilevskiy, the score remained tied. But it was not without some minor heart attacks. The Lightning managed to survive the Flyers rally and force the game to overtime. That makes it 13 straight games with at least a point.
A HUGE save from VASY.— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 28, 2018
We're tied with 6 minutes to play. pic.twitter.com/CMgWu7zLSl
Cirelli to Killorn to end the mayhem in just 18 seconds.
Outside of an ugly third period, the Lightning played fine. That third period was horrid though. Aside from the obvious goals, Tampa Bay repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with poor passes, bad reads, and a propensity to pass when they should’ve shot.
Call it rust from not playing in a few days, but it’s not like the Lightning have played spectacular defense over these last 13 games. They’ve allowed two or less goals in just four of their last 13 games. The other nine games have seen the opposing team score at least three goals.
Sure, Tampa Bay is outscoring every other team, but eventually the torrid pace that they’re scoring at is going to dry up. It always goes in ebbs and flows. They’re going to need to get back to basics in the defensive zone if they don’t want to have their annual January slump.
Over his last 13 games, Steven Stamkos has scored 15 goals. He’s tied with Brayden Point for the team lead and has garnered a total of 22 points in that span (this includes his four-point night this evening). He broke Martin St. Louis’ record for most goals in a month and he passed Brad Richards for the third most assists in franchise history. Stamkos is still an elite player in the NHL. A slow start doesn’t change that.
Kucherov being Kucherov
A five-point night and a four-point night in back-to-back games for number 86.
With nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) over his last two games, Nikita Kucherov has broken the Lightning franchise record for most points in two consecutive games held previously by Vinny Lecavalier (4-4--8 from Nov. 14-16 in 2007). #Bolts #PHIvsTBL— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) December 28, 2018
He might not save you 20% on your car insurance, but he will sure make your ticket be worth the price of admission.
It was basically a tire fire. If they didn’t have a three goal cushion, this could’ve been real ugly. Philadelphia dominated the third period and the Lightning were fortunate to pull this one off. They won, and that’s all that matters in the end. But when the games get tighter, we best hope we see less of this period return in the future.
Let’s hear what you have to say!
- J.T. Miller was taken out of the game after the second period. The team listed him with an upper-body injury.
- Mikhail Sergachev looked to be injured after taking taking a slapshot off his knee. He returned to the bench after heading to the locker room, but did not see any ice-time.
- Jon Cooper stated after the game that both players would be re-evaluated tomorrow.