A franchise milestone was made this evening as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime to extend their winning streak to eleven games. It wasn’t an even effort from the Lightning, but thanks to a strong second period and the heroics of Nikita Kucherov the Lightning took down an explosive Avalanche team.
Tampa Bay struggled during the early portion of the first period. Their issues were personified by a hooking penalty on Yanni Gourde that led to Andre Burakovsky’s opening goal just 4:49 into the game. Afterward, the Lightning found their footing and began to push the Avalanche back. They weren’t able to capitalize on their chances in the period, but did tilt the ice in their favor as they controlled 60% of the shot attempts and generated an xGF% of 65%.
The second period saw the Lightning strike quickly as Alex Killorn and Cameron Gaunce scored just sixteen seconds apart during the early part of the second. Steven Stamkos added a third goal for the Lightning at 13:43. Colorado answered with Nathan MacKinnon’s 33rd goal of the season at 18:26. Overall, the second was even as both teams traded control and chances. Tampa Bay held the edge in possession at 51% and quality at 54%.
Entering the third period with a lead the Lightning were hoping to hold back an aggressive push from the Avalanche; they failed. Colorado repeatedly came after Tampa Bay, pinning them in the defensive zone and forcing Curtis McElhinney to make a litany of great saves to keep their lead. Unfortunately, a questionable holding call on Gaunce led to Colorado maintaining pressure after the ensuing power-play where Valeri Nichushkin tipped a Cale Makar point shot to tie the game at 12:43.
Tampa Bay struggled for the remainder of the period as Colorado refused to allow them to generate much offensive pressure. Combine that with the penalties that Tampa Bay took and the ice was tilted in the Avalanche’s favor. Luckily, the Lightning were able to weather the pressure and push the game toward overtime.
After Colorado controlled the majority of overtime (and got away with at least one seemingly illegal pick play), Nikita Kucherov stole the puck in the defensive zone and raced down on a breakaway where he beat Pavel Francouz to win it for the Lightning.
Overall, the Lightning did control this game at 5v5. Possession was in their favor at 53% as was the quality battle at 58%. The third period was the only period that Colorado thoroughly controlled. There were moments where the Avalanche did pin the Lightning in the defensive zone for extended periods of time, but they were more the exception than the rule.
Steven Stamkos played in his 800th career game and scored his 420th goal, Alex Killorn scored his 23rd goal of the season, and Cameron Gaunce scored his first NHL goal since March 14th, 2017. Brayden Point also extended his point streak to 11 games.
Only three teams in NHL history have been the first to register 40 wins in three or more consecutive seasons (outright or tied):— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 18, 2020
@TBLightning (2017-18 to 2019-20) @EdmontonOilers (1983-84 to 1986-87) @CanadiensMTL (1959-60 to 1961-62; 1975-76 to 1978-79).
As a hockey fan, this game was entertaining from start to finish. As a Lightning fan, it was irritating to an extent. The officiating felt lopsided against Tampa Bay especially with a scrum in the third period saw only Anthony Cirelli get penalized. Add in the soft call on Gaunce that eventually led to Colorado’s tying goal in the third and it felt like Tampa Bay had to beat the officials and Colorado (which is hard enough as it is).
Loved the effort from Steven Stamkos this evening. His goal was lauded as a “goal scorer’s goal” on the broadcast, but that goal was 100% effort and drive from the Captain. Then on a penalty kill Stamkos made a diving poke check to clear the zone and make a line change after the Avalanche were threatening on that advantage.
Rough night for Mikhail Sergachev who had a few misplays that led to Colorado chances. Erik Cernak also had an up and down performance. Anthony Cirelli was Anthony Cirelli, while Alex Killorn had a strong game, especially in the defensive zone. It also felt like Carter Verhaeghe was really pushing in the first and second periods.
Regardless, that’s eleven in a row, a franchise record, and a chance to make it twelve on Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.