The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make things easy for themselves after an awful first period, but they pulled themselves together, scoring four straight goals in the second half of the game to beat the LA Kings 4-2 in the second game of their western road trip.
Steven Stamkos scored twice, and could’ve had three, including the game-tying goal on the power play after he, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman combined for 12 shot attempts in that one power play shift alone. Tyler Johnson scored the first goal of the game to begin the comeback in the second, while Erik Cernak potted the game-winning goal early in the third period.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be very good in the first period just to keep the Lightning in the game, making some 10-bell saves in the second period that sparked the comeback. He finished the night 32 saves on 34 shots, a .941 save percentage and his 25th win of the season.
The shot share in this game heavily favored the Kings, as the Lightning only managed 40% for themselves. The first half of the game was really bad in this regard as the Kings shockingly looked like the faster and more hungry team up and down the ice. The Bolts eventually stemmed the tide and started getting harder on loose pucks and their pace picked up.
The Kings won the 5v5 shot attempts battle 60-39, but their volume mostly came from point shots — their defense combined had nearly as many shots as the Lightning in total (29).
Looking more closely at the quality of chances, the Lightning were better at finding space in the middle of the zone, especially the slot, and actually won the scoring chances battle 19-15 and the expected goals share with 53%. I thought Stamkos, Johnson, and Mitchell Stephens all had great nights in that regard.
The Kings definitely got the jump on the Lightning in the first part of the game, owning seven of the game’s first eight shot attempts, and earning the first power play as well. Vasilevskiy had to be flexible in the first as the Kings were doing a good job of getting to the corners and throwing the puck across the front of the net. The Lightning defense did a good job of tying up sticks in the slot, but they needed to do more preventing zone entries.
The Lightning paid for their tough start pretty quickly on the penalty kill as Tyler Toffoli picked up the puck from a zone entry by Adrian Kempe and whipped a backhand over Vasilevskiy from the slot. Ryan McDonagh went down early and tried to block a shot that didn’t come, allowing Toffoli to deke to the inside and get a better shot. On the zone entry, Alex Killorn picked a direction to cut off the Kings and got it wrong, allowing Toffoli to walk in from the boards.
The next little bit of the period was better for the Lightning. They still got out-shot in the next stretch, but they started to get some chances in and around the front of the net. Against a goalie like Jonathan Quick, rebounds and lateral passes are key. Unfortunately, they simply looked like the second quickest team on the ice. The fourth line probably looked the best offensively out of all four lines in the opening frame.
The Lightning brought the game back to a respectable(ish) number, and even got the puck past Quick right near the end of the period. Unfortunately “right near the end of the period” actually meant several milliseconds after the buzzer blew.
It was not a good first period from the Lightning. They lost at 5v5 and special teams, going 11-18 in shot attempts (6-4 in scoring chances) and 0/1 on both the penalty kill and power play. The Lightning may have had a handful of “scoring chances” but the only shot in front of the net came from Tyler Johnson, beyond that, everything was at the perimeter.
I don’t have much to say about this other than Jan Rutta missed Alex Iafallo coming up the right side which allowed him to take a slap shot from distance. Vasilevskiy should’ve had it, but he didn’t, and the Lightning fell down two goals early in the second.
With some redemption from the Iafallo goal, Vasilevskiy made a couple really big saves as the Lightning really struggled to play in front of their goalie in the first half of the second. At this point, the commentators wanted the Lightning to get dirty, panning the camera to Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette. Instead, the Bolts sent out 5’8” Tyler Johnson and he scored a sweet goal, bringing the boys back within one goal.
FINALLY! FI NA LLY !!!
With Kurtis MacDermid in the penalty box for slashing, the Lightning got on their second power play of the game and completely held court for two full minutes plus. It was a straight shooting gallery for Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos, who combined for 12 shot attempts. 12! It was agonizing as Quick and the Kings were flying in all directions and it seemed like an impossible task for the Lightning to hit the net. Eventually, though, Stamkos wired a shot right into the top corner and fell to the ice in relief.
Lauren and I (quietly) lost it in the Raw Charge newsroom as everyone else was asleep.
7 of those 12 shot attempts were ripped by Stamkos - he finally scored on the seventh.— ♀️Lauren Kelly ♀️ (@laurkelly24) January 30, 2020
The second was a much better period for the Lightning than the first. The shots were even at 5v5, but with the power play being so dominant, the Lightning were able to find some momentum and carried that really well through the second half of the period.
The Lightning carried their momentum from the second into the third and completed the comeback when Erik Cernak took a point shot off a faceoff. Kucherov and Stamkos both earned their second points of the night.
Stamkos scored a really nice goal off the rush assisted by Erik Cernak, but it turned out to be offside and the goal was overturned after a review.
While it would’ve been easier if the Lightning had a two goal lead, the group did a great job of keeping the pressure off Vasy, including a couple great chances by Pat Maroon and Alex Killorn. In the defensive zone, the team did a really good job of slowing down the Kings and keeping them to the outside. The Bolts swallowed up rebounds and dumped pucks, getting them out of the zone without much fuss.
Stamkos eventually did get his second of the game with the empty net and half a second left in regulation.
My three stars of the night...— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) January 30, 2020
Also thought Stephens (and his line) had a solid game. Four shot attempts for him in 11:11 TOI and went 8-4 on faceoffs.