Being shorthanded and forced to play a defensemen at forward didn’t slow down the Lightning from securing their ninth straight win as they defeated the Connor McDavidless Edmonton Oilers 3-1 this evening. It wasn’t the prettiest game from the Lightning, but an effective one that saw Pat Maroon, Yanni Gourde, and Cedric Paquette all score for Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay couldn’t have asked for a stronger start to this game. They dictated every facet of the first period, and made the Edmonton Oilers look lost for long stretches of time. Through the first 20 minutes, Tampa Bay controlled 57% of the shot attempts, generated an xGF% of 73%, out-chanced Edmonton 10-3 (5-1 in high danger chances), and largely skated circles around the Oilers in the offensive zone.
Given that the Lightning were short Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, Jan Rutta, and Ryan McDonagh this kind of pressure was a welcome sight to see. It showcases how talented this team is even without some of their best players.
Tampa Bay’s best chances came from a Tyler Johnson shot that rang off the post after he had a wide-open net (and I cannot stress the WIDE-OPEN part enough) to shoot at. Pat Maroon also had a sneaky backhand later in the period that Oiler’s goalie Mike Smith managed to knock aside with his goal stick.
Tampa Bay’s pressure stemmed from their controlled entries pushing the Oilers defense back, and following that up with cross zone passes to force Edmonton to over compensate in their coverage. The forecheck from the Lightning also caused a litany of issues for the Oilers defense down below the goal line. If there were any struggles that the Lightning did have in the first period, it was their penchant for over-passing in the offensive zone and their defensemen being off the mark with some some outlet passes.
The heat map illustrates it succinctly. All Tampa Bay has to do is keep this style of play up, stay out of the penalty box, and don’t allow Edmonton to find a groove moving forward.
The scoreless tie didn’t last long in the second period. Tampa Bay struck first as Pat Maroon scored his seventh of the season at 4:39.
A bit of a lucky bounce for Maroon both in recovering the puck and getting it past Smith, but a goal is a goal. Maroon made the best of his chance and in turn broke a goalless streak that went back to January 11th (not as big as Yanni Gourde’s but a month without a goal is still a while).
Edmonton managed to push back after the Maroon goal. The Oilers started cutting off Tampa Bay’s neutral zone transition and began to dictate the pact near the midway point of the period. It ultimately culminated in a tying goal by Caleb Jones at 9:36. Upon seeing this goal in real time, I thought Leon Draisaitl was offside, but upon replay it was clear that it was onside—hell of a move by Draisaitl to stay onside here.
Tampa Bay pushed back after the Oilers tied it, but were penalized for a too-many-men on the ice call after Kevin Shattenkirk was caught as the sixth man on the ice as he was going for a change. However, it didn’t matter as Yanni Gourde and the Lightning penalty kill were up to the task of shutting down the Oilers top power-play.
First, great stick check by Cedric Paquette to make Draisaitl’s attempted pass that much more difficult. Second, great read by Gourde on the steal here. From there, it’s a race between him and Oscar Klefbom and Gourde wasn’t going to be denied on this chance. After going 35 games without a goal, Gourde now has goals in consecutive games. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Lightning.
The Lightning continued to dictate play as the period wound down, especially in the final two minutes. After 40 minutes, the heat map tells a pretty clear story.
The third period saw Edmonton push back the hardest. The Lightning held the edge in shot attempts (54%), but the quality battle was firmly in Edmonton’s hands (58%). That said, the final frame of regulation wasn’t especially exciting from an offensive perspective. Tampa Bay didn’t go into “turtle” mode, but they did pull back a little. This combined with Edmonton getting more desperate as the period wore on forced the Lightning into some precarious situations. However, like he has been for the past 20 games, Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall for the Lightning in net.
Sprinkle in an empty net goal from Cedric Paquette at 19:04 and Tampa Bay’s winning streak now stands at nine games—the second time this season they’ve hit nine consecutive wins.
For missing five impact players, this was quite an impressive win from the Lightning. Through 60 minutes they controlled 55% of the shot attempts at 5v5, won the quality battle at 52%, and out-chanced Edmonton 25-20 (10-10 high danger chances). It wasn’t the top flight style that we’re used too, but it was an effective game while being severely undermanned up front.
- This play by Zach Kassian is complete trash. There’s no defense for a move like that. This is suspension worthy without a doubt in my mind.
- For as much as we here at Raw Charge groan at Luke Schenn being in the lineup, he probably had his best game of the season tonight. A lot of talk will be on his hits (which two put him out of position defensively), but the real talk should be on focused on how disciplined he was in his own end. His gap control was fantastic, his stick checking was smart, and he boxed out the Oilers from the front of the net very well compared to previous games this season.
- Yell it with me now: YANNNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!