The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames 7-4 Thursday night in a match that featured lead changes, physical play, and lots of goals.
Though at times the Lightning seemed sloppy, allowing odd-man rushes and generally leaving Andrei Vasilevskiy out to dry, the offense came out swinging towards the later half of the game, storming back from a 4-2 deficit. The Lightning’s five consecutive goals turned what seemed to be another loss to the Flames into a offensive outburst and subsequent win. A game that began rather rough, with scums and rough plays throughout the first period, turned into a free-flowing, up-and-down the ice game by the end.
Alex Killorn was a surprising forward for the Bolts to lean on Thursday night. His five-point game (including his first goals in 11 games) pushed him to 202 career NHL points. The Lightning spread the riches, with five different players scoring goals in securing the victory.
The Lightning benefited from a lengthy 5-3 situation just 30 seconds into play, but where unable to capitalize. Out of the seven scored in the night, it’s odd none came off the two-man advantage.
Calgary went to the powerplay six minutes into the frame after a tripping call on Anton Stralman. Chris Kunitz made a questionable hit on Johnny Gaudreau later near the Lightning bench, resulting in a scrum. Regardless, Calgary needed just a minute to score. A swift pass by Mikael Backlund from behind the net found Micheal Ferland for a quick shot and goal. Some more scrums continued later, resulting in a fight behind the Tampa net between Jake Dotchin and Matthew Tkachuk.
Following the fight, the Lightning offense was finally able to get going. Gaining some zone time, Matthew Peca dumped the puck to the point where Andrej Sustr fed it in front of the net. Braydon Coburn redirected Sustr’s feed to put the Bolts on the board, evening the score with five minutes to go in the first.
The Lightning started this period much like the beginning of the first, with a powerplay opportunity. However, this time the Bolts were able to benefit from the man-advantage. After a flurry of shots in front of the goalmouth, Alex Killorn corralled the puck for the goal.
Calgary then took control of the game, scoring twice within just a few minutes. T.J. Brodie dumped the puck down the boards, finding Backlund who took it into the Bolts zone, toe-dragged past a sliding Mikhail Sergachev and beat Vasilevskiy with a nice shot. The Flames following goal happened moments later. Sean Monahan skated past Steven Stamkos in the neutral zone, splitting him and Victor Hedman and put the puck right above Andrei Vasilevskiy’s glove side. One of many Lightning defensive miscues on the night.
Nine minutes later, Matt Stajan would increase the Flames lead to 4-2 and the Lightning seemed on their way to another late-night loss in Calgary.
But then came a crucial goal by Matthew Peca. Speeding down the left side, Peca slid past the defense and wristed one through Mike Smith’s legs. Peca has definitely made his recent time with Tampa Bay felt. He is hovering around a 70% face-off percentage and has two goals in his last two games.
Killorn wasted no time in notching his second goal on the night just seconds into the third period. This goal brought the match back level at 4 goals a piece.
The Lightning then proceeded to score three goals within three minutes. It was a huge turning point in the game, it almost felt like the Bolts were finally rewarded after previously creating dangerous chances and not finishing.
Cory Conacher recorded two goals tonight. Steven Stamkos grabbed a goal off a great feed by Kunitz. It was clear that the third period really opened-up for Tampa Bay. This was clearly a down period for Smith who had seemed like he kept the Bolts in check for most of the first two frames. But once the goals started falling, Smith and company began to lose composure.
After the sixth Lightning goal, Mike Smith was....not happy.
Mike Smith is maddddddddd pic.twitter.com/nDtnv2LMQj— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 2, 2018
The Lightning continue their swing through Canada with a game against Vancouver on Saturday night.