The 2013-14 season saw the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first playoff appearance since losing in game seven of the 2010-11 Eastern Conference Final to the Boston Bruins. The Lightning made it in as the second seed in the Atlantic Division and hosted the Montreal Canadiens at home. Unfortunately, goaltender Ben Bishop was injured late in the season and the team was left relying on Anders Lindback and rookie Kristers Gudlevskis in net. The goaltending was not up to snuff and Carey Price was too good leading the Canadiens to a 4-0 sweep over the Lightning.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2014-15 NHL season. The Triplets were soon to be born but were still another week and a half away from coming together at the end of a Western Canada road trip. The Lightning were 1-0-1 after beating the Florida Panthers in overtime in the home opener and then losing to the Ottawa Senators in the shootout on their second game.
The third game of the season, the Montreal Canadiens came to town. After scoring just five goals in the first two games, the Lightning came out with an offensive explosion against Carey Price. In fact, the Lightning would go 5-0-0 against the Canadiens scoring 21 goals while allowing just eight on the year. The would follow that by avenging themselves in the playoffs beating the Canadiens in six games in the second round.
This particular game though, the Lightning were definitely out to prove something. Hedman would pick up four points, Stamkos with three, three other players would finish with two points, and another five would record a point. All while only allowing one first period goal to Brendan Gallagher on their way to a 7-1 demolishing of the Habs.
For Stamkos, this game was his 8th career hat trick tying Martin St. Louis’ franchise mark. He also has not recorded a hat trick since with nine other hat tricks being scored since this one. Let’s take a look at how he scored each goal. Down at the bottom is a YouTube video with the highlights so you can watch for yourself.
Already up 1-0, the Lightning were on a power play almost half way into the first period after Nathan Beaulieu was called for interference. Callahan received a pass from Valtteri Filppula and passed it back to him. Filppula sent the puck up to the center point for Hedman. Stamkos came back across from the right wing side to retake his spot on the left wing circle and received a hard pass from Hedman. The pass was too hard and not in a great position for him to one-time it so he just took the pass.
With Callahan parked in front, he passed the puck to him. Callahan turned around with the puck and tried to take a shot from in tight. He got disrupted and checked to the ice. Callahan was able to recover and tap the puck towards Stamkos coming in from the circle. Stamkos picked up the puck at the side of the goal crease and found a hole just inside the post to get the power play goal. The goal was assisted by Callahan and Hedman.
On the second goal, the Lighting were up 2-1 with seven minutes remaining in the second period. Hedman went back to retrieve a puck that was cleared down the ice by the Canadiens. Icing was waved off and Hedman picked up the puck and went to the back of his own net. After being challenged by Alex Galchenyuk, Hedman came back out from behind the net. He looked up from the bottom of the right wing face off circle and saw Stamkos breaking for the opposing blue line. Hedman’s pass threaded through two Canadiens defenders and right on to Stamkos’ stick.
Stamkos went into the zone with speed and was able to keep ahead of the harrassment from Alexei Emelin. He deked left and then brought it back on to his forehand and got Price to open up the five hole for him to slide in to the back of the net. Hedman received the lone assist on Stamkos’ second goal of the night.
Less than five minutes later, the Lightning were once again on the power play after P.K. Subban was called for Interference after the Lightning killed a penalty of their own by Brett Connolly. With a 3-1 lead and the power play, Stamkos went looking for his third goal.
Filppula came down the left wing boards with the puck and protected it until the defender backed off and he had the puck down around the end line. Filppula passed the puck up to the center point for Hedman who slid it over to the top of the right wing circle for Stamkos. Stamkos took a couple strides forward and loaded up for a big one-timer. He slapped the puck at the net and beat Price with Callahan helping to create a screen in front of the net. It took a moment, but the hats started to fly on to the ice as Stamkos had his hat trick. Hedman and Filppula got the assists on the third goal of the night for Stamkos.