The Lightning have won the second consecutive game on a road-trip to California. By many components it was an equal game, but in the end Tampa Bay showed their class and earned a victory.
It was another excellent game by Anthony Cirelli. In the 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, he scored a goal, added an assist on an opening goal by Ondrej Palat, had a couple of good shorthanded chances and was deservedly named the first star of the game.
Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos extended their point streaks. Kucherov has five consecutive multipoint game, Steven Stamkos didn’t score this time but has now ten points in the last six games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 150th career game in the NHL and became just the fourth goalie in the NHL to do it before his 250th game. Vasilevskiy hasn’t also lost in regulation in 15 games.
The first goal came after four minutes of play: Anthony Cirelli dumped the puck deep into the Ducks zone then went on the forecheck, won a battle along the boards and fed Ondrej Palat with a pass. Palat didn’t make any mistake and sent the puck past John Gibson. Tyler Johnson gets credited with a secondary assist.
The Ducks answered pretty quickly. Rickard Rakell couldn’t shoot the puck on his first attempt, went with spin-o-rama move on the second attempt and send the puck into Andrei Vasilevskiy’s net. The goaltender was screened by Eric Cernak and probably didn’t see it.
The Lightning took the lead back with five minutes left in the game. Brayden Point started a combination in the Lightning zone, made a pass to Steven Stamkos who left the puck to Nikita Kucherov in the neutral zone. After a quick passing sequence, the puck returned to Point who found Eric Cernak in front of the net and Cernak scored a goal through John Gibson’s five-hole.
The Ducks weren’t done for the period. They managed to tie the game for the second time, although the goal was pretty unexpected. Michael Del Zotto intercepted a pass to Mitchell Stephens and shoot the puck into the Lightning net. Vasilevskiy was screened again, this time by Yanni Gourde.
The Ducks almost took a lead early in the second period. Rickard Rakell threw a puck into the crease and Ryan Getzlaf was close to scoring his first goal of the game, but his shot went wide. The Ducks had another chance a little bit later, bud Adam Henrique also missed his opportunity.
Anaheim went to their second power play after Victor Hedman got a penalty for tripping Del Zotto. The first big moment on that power play actually came for the Lightning after Cam Fowler shot deflected off Stamkos and Cirelli cruised past the Ducks defence on breakaway but was denied by John Gibson.
After that moment, the Ducks tightened up their game. They put a lot pressure on an Andrei Vasilevskiy. Erik Gudbranson had a couple of good shots and the puck came dangerously close to going in after a rebound on a Rickard Rakell shot, but still the Bolts did a great job of keeping it out of the net.
Derek Grant was called for holding the stick against Eric Cernak and the Lightning went on their first power play of the game. The Lightning power play unit have been struggling lately and it also continued today. In the first minute of man advantage, they’ve created a pretty good opportunity for Nikita Kucherov, who was left alone in the right circle after a good passing by Lightning players, but he couldn’t score. Other than that they didn’t create much on that power play and went scoreless.
The Lightning returned on the power play five minutes later when Eric Cernak drew another penalty. It was a pretty ineffective power play for the Lightning, they haven’t recorded any shot during two minutes and for the most part were locked down in their own zone.
With one minute to go in the period, the Lightning took the lead again after Anthony Cirelli’s goal. Pat Maroon moved the puck from one board to another, Jan Rutta propelled it towards the Anaheim net and the puck went past John Gibson after a deflection off Cirelli’s foot.
That goal seemed a little bit unexpected as the Ducks looked like a better team during the second period but this observation wasn’t really supported by the numbers. In terms of expected goals, the Lightning created more chances and even led the Ducks in shot attempts percentage.
Tyler Johnson went to the penalty box in the opening minutes of the third period for hooking, but the Ducks power play didn’t last long as Cirelli drew a penalty on another shorthanded rush and the 5-on-4 power play have quickly transformed into a 4-on-4. The Lightning looked better on 4-on-4, the puck was moving around the Anaheim zone, but the score remained the same.
In the first ten minutes of the third period, the game was pretty equal. The teams exchanged couple of good chances, but the breaking point happened with eleven minutes to go. Steven Stamkos found Nikita Kucherov with a beautiful long pass during a line change by the Ducks players, Kucherov squeezed through two defenceman and beat Gibson with a backhand shot, giving the Lightning a 4-2 lead. It was his sixth goal in six games.
The Ducks pulled the goaltender with three minutes left in the period, trailing by two goals. Vasilevskiy went for an empty-netter, but the puck was caught in the air by one of the Ducks players. Anaheim continued to put pressure on the Lightning net and Troy Terry brought them within one goal with 11.9 seconds to go after a rebound on Rakell’s shot
11.9 seconds wasn’t enough for the Ducks to tie the game and force the overtime and the Lightning won second consecutive game in California. The Ducks dominated the Lightning in shot attempts in that period but couldn’t convert it in goals.