The Tampa Bay Lightning crossed the border on Thursday night to take on the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning looked to extend a winning streak after beating the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Washington on Tuesday. Tonight they managed to extend the streak to a second game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 despite a late-game rally from the home team.
In a rare situation, Jon Cooper started Louis Domingue in net. For most of the season, the Lightning’s back-up goaltenders (Domingue and Peter Budaj) have rarely started a game that wasn’t a back-to-back situation. Vasilevskiy therefore gets three days of rest and should be back in net on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.
The lines for the Lightning, with eleven forwards and seven defensemen, to start the game, are as follows. (Also note that with seven defensemen, the defensive pairings were mixed up throughout the night and other forwards mixed in with the fourth line.)
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Chris Kunitz - Yanni Gourde - Tyler Johnson
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn - Jake Dotchin
It didn’t take long for the game to get going with Alex Killorn drawing a high sticking penalty 1:25 into the game. Lightning went to work with the first power play unit. The first shot on goal of the game came for the Senators with a shorthanded rush against Domingue that he turned aside. The Senators proved to be aggressive on the penalty kill and prevented the Lightning from getting a shot through on Craig Anderson.
Despite the power play for the Lightning, the Senators controlled the momentum on most shifts up to the first commercial break. After the commercial break, the Lightning started to turn the tide around and cashed in on a Johnson shot from long range that beat Anderson. The play started with Kunitz putting the puck into the corner from the red line. Johnson and Gourde were quick to get in on the forecheck with Kunitz following up. Gourde and Kunitz combined to steal the puck off the wall to get it to Johnson for the shot from near the blue line. With a Senators defensemen coming across, Johnson made use of the moving screen to get Anderson leaning the wrong way to beat him short side to put the Lightning up 1-0.
Kunitz picked up his 600th career NHL point, joining 39 other active players in the NHL with 600 points. Gourde was awarded the secondary assist.
The first period continued with a lot of back-and-forth action. The possession lead kept swinging back and forth throughout. The Senators were able to cash in on a bit of a misplay around the net. A pass from Mark Stone out of the corner went through one Lightning player and then hit off of Dotchin’s skate in front of the net. Ryan Dzingel was there to collect the puck. Domingue went down to try and cover up the bottom of the net, but Dzingel showed off some great hands to deke the puck around Domingue’s pad and get it into the net before Domingue could get his glove down to stop the puck. 1-1 tied game.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to answer back. With Kucherov taking a shift on the first line in Callahan’s place, he put on a terrific display of puck handling and control. The Lightning cycled the puck around the zone, passing the puck and passing it off on crossing plays to control the puck. Kucherov fighting off a couple of Senators defenders made two little taps of the puck to get through one and then get the puck to Hedman while shielding him from the other.
Hedman took the puck into the slot taking advantage of a moving screen by Namestnikov to gain some more room. He fought through a slash and continued to the front of the net unchallenged before snapping a shot by Anderson short side to put the Lightning up 2-1. Kucherov extended his point streak to eight games with the primary assist and Namestnikov getting the secondary assist.
The first period ended with the Lightning taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room. One big takeaway from the period was Kucherov taking shifts with Namestnikov and Stamkos. It seemed he was out there about every other shift the Stamkos line was taking in Callahan’s place. This despite the Lightning already playing eleven forwards and having an open spot on the fourth line.
The Lightning came out sluggish for the first handful of shifts of the second period. Ottawa controlled the puck and kept the Lightning pinned in their zone for multiple shifts. However, the Lightning found a way to score on their first shot of the period. Stamkos got to the red line and found Kucherov on the other side with two others driving towards the blue line.
Kucherov stepped into the zone and drew the attention of the defending Senators. He stopped up and snuck a pass through into the middle for Namestnikov to drive the net unchallenged. Namestnikov flipped the puck up short side. Anderson got a piece of the puck, but not enough to keep it out of the net, and Lightning lead 3-1. Kucherov and Stamkos received assists on the goal.
With the goal, Namestnikov hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Kucherov also hit the 80-point plateau for the second time in his career with the second assist of the game.
A couple shifts after the goal, Koekkoek gave the Senators their first power play of the night by committing a holding infraction. The penalty kill was strong and included a big drive from the slot by Dotchin, shorthanded, that Anderson turned aside.
After a few minutes and some good chances by the Lightning, Stamkos got called for tripping as he was battling around the offensive net for a puck, sending the Senators back on the power play. Point had a great shorthanded chance on Anderson as he went one-on-one with Gaborik. The Lightning penalty continued their strong play from the first penalty kill, minimizing Ottawa’s chances while regularly clearing the puck from the zone.
The special teams parade continued, except this time it was the Lightning picking up a power play. Kucherov was attempting to enter the zone and was clipped up high with a stick to draw the penalty. The Lightning’s second unit got the first opportunity but couldn’t manage to get a shot on goal before giving way to the first unit. The first unit didn’t do much better also failing to get the puck going towards the net.
The Senators continued to control the play for much of the rest of the second period. Domingue had to come up big multiple times to make some great saves, including his second breakaway save of the game, this time on Dzingel.
With the clock winding down, Killorn and Gourde battled behind the Senators net for the puck. The puck found it’s way onto Gourde’s stick. He made a pass out to the front of the net where Point was waiting to slam the puck home through the five-hole, to put the Lightning up 4-1 with 0.9 seconds on the clock.
At this point, the game has a similar feel to the Washington game on Tuesday night. The Lightning have not controlled the puck through much of the game, but when they’ve had their chances with the puck, they’ve capitalized.
The Lightning came out with a solid start to the third period. With Ottawa being on the back side of a back-to-back, the Lightning have an opportunity to wear down the tired Senators. Through the first few minutes of the third period, the Lightning did just that, challenging Anderson early with nice opportunities.
The Lightning’s momentum would get broken up by a solid shift by the Senators pressuring the Lightning in their zone. The pressure led to Johnson getting called for a hooking penalty to give the Senators their third opportunity of the night.
Domingue had to come up with a couple of big stops early in the penalty kill and was helped out by the crossbar on another shot. The Lightning were quick on the puck and cleared the puck efficiently whenever they touched the puck. Callahan came up with a shorthanded opportunity similar to one he had not long before where he was able to power across the front of the net and slide the puck home. This time, he had more pressure from behind and was unable to pull off the move. The Lightning continued the strong run of penalty killing, and with the help of the post, kept the Senators out of the net once again.
A couple shifts later, Mark Borowiecki put the puck into the net for the Senators. However, the referee immediately waved it off as Bobby Ryan helped to pull Domingue around while battling to the front of the net with Dotchin. The officials gathered together to discuss for a moment and confirmed the call. Senators head coach Guy Boucher didn’t take long to challenge the call.
Upon further review, the referees decided that Bobby Ryan didn’t interfere with Domingue despite pulling him around. And once again, nobody in the world knows what goaltender interference is. 4-2 Senators.
Kucherov tried to get the goal right back as he broke on a three-on-one rush with Namestnikov and Stamkos. After getting deep, Kucherov fed the puck to Namestnikov for a shot from the slot that was stopped by Anderson. Later on in the shift, the Stamkov line forced Erik Karlsson into flipping the puck over the net for a delay of game penalty and a Lightning power play.
The power play struggles continued for the Lightning as neight unit could get a whole lot going. Both units gave up shorthanded chances and the Senators were able to kill ample amounts of time but controlling the puck in the Lightning’s zone.
To make matters worse, the Lightning allowed a scramble around the net as Karlsson exited the box. Domingue had help keeping the puck out of the net, but Gourde got called for hooking in the melee to give the Senators another opportunity on the power play. The penalty kill continued with their strong performance preventing the Senators from scoring on the power play.
The Lightning picked up the momentum after the penalty kill getting a couple of very strong shifts from the second and third line. That was killed though when Dotchin took a tripping penalty trying to deny a zone entry where he caught standing still with a Senators player entering at full speed.
Halfway into the penalty kill, the Senators pulled Anderson for the extra attacker with just over three minutes left in the third period and down by two. The first stoppage after by a Domingue save led the Senators to call a timeout to formulate a plan to attack the Lightning six-on-four.
The Lightning struggled to win pucks and clear them the couple of times they go the puck on their stick. A tic-tac-toe play from Karlsson at the point down to Mark Stone in the corner and back up to Derrick Brassard in the circle for the one-timer that beat Domingue. 4-3 Lightning lead with under two minutes to go.
With 1:22 to go, the Lightning iced the puck. The Senators pulled Anderson again with the offensive zone faceoff to give themselves the extra attacker. Gourde was able to get the puck off the wall and clear it down the ice towards the empty net. He hit the post, but that avoided an icing call and allowed the Lightning to change a couple players. Kucherov followed up with another clear with 20 seconds to go, but this time it went for icing.
While the last minute and a half was nail biting, the Lightning pulled it out battling for pucks along the wall and blocking shots. Domingue came up big and earned the win.
4-3 Lightning win.
I still don’t know what goaltender interference is. Any one that is right on goaltender interference calls more than 30% of the time should immediately go and buy a flight to Las Vegas.