The Lightning defeated the Kings 4-3 in a shootout after a late third period comeback. The game was tied 2-2 for much of the game before the Kings took the lead in the third only to see the Lightning tie the game with a little over two minutes left and then secure the second point in the shootout.
The Kings opened the scoring with two goals in the first seven minutes. It started with Jeff Carter collecting a loose puck in front of the crease and sliding it into the wide open net. Kyle Clifford followed a couple minutes later with a bad angle shot that Andrei Vasilevskiy never saw on the way to the net.
The Lightning answered with goals from Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos before the end of the period. Killorn scored on a nice wrister after a pretty set up by Alex Volkov for his first NHL point. Stamkos’ goal was a rebound after Jonathan Quick made one of his patented lateral saves on Anthony Cirelli.
Neither team scored in the second period. The Kings took the lead halfway through the third on a power play goal from Dustin Brown. It looked like they had the win secured but Nikita Kucherov scored on a bomb directly off a faceoff win by Anthony Cirelli to tie the game with 2:05 left.
The Kings took a penalty with about a minute left giving the Lightning some 5 on 4 time before the end of regulation and some 4 on 3 time to start OT. The Bolts failed to capitalize and after the penalty expired, the teams played the entire overtime without a stoppage so the game remained at 4 on 4 instead of 4 on 3.
In the shootout, Stamkos scored in the fourth round to put the Lightning up 2-1 and Vasilevskiy shutdown Brown to secure the win.
This was a close game in all areas. The Lightning finished with a slight edge in terms of shot metrics and that translated into a close victory. The Kings showed why they’ve been one of the better teams in terms of controlling play all season. They hung with the Lightning all night and could have easily walked out of Amalie with a win.
This was one of those “good teams find a way to win” games. The Lightning had tons of them last season. That hasn’t been the case until recently this year but this is one for the collection. In every way, tonight was a 50/50 game. But the Lightning’s stars came up big at the end of the game and stole the two points.
The Kucherov goal was a play of pure unstoppable skill. Cirelli did a great job to win the faceoff and make the pass but the goal was all Kuch. He unleashed a monster shot from high in the zone and Quick never had a chance.
And then in the shootout, Stamkos ripped another perfect shot bar down past Quick to give the Lightning the win. In both cases, the Kings goalie may as well not have even been in the net. He wasn’t stopping those shots.
I should also mention the play of Alex Volkov. I was hard on him in a recap earlier this week. He was much better tonight. He was in the middle of the pack in terms of play driving and was instrumental in creating the first goal. He looked far more involved and more comfortable than he did in the previous two games. I’m still not convinced he offers more right now than Mathieu Joseph would but he at least flashed some of the potential he’s shown in the AHL in the preseason.
Alex Killorn goal to make it 1-0
Nikita Kucherov game tying goal
Stamkos game winner in the shootout