The Tampa Bay Lightning ended their four-game losing streak with a win against the Calgary Flames Saturday afternoon. Prior to the game the team has lost their captain, Steven Stamkos, to injury for the next 6-8 weeks and in his absence several depth players have came forward.
The win was keyed by a long-awaited reawakening of the power play. The Lightning converted two of their four power play opportunities during that game and had a solid look on the remaining two. The penalty kill looked great too, the addition of Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow gave them more depth and another strong penalty kill unit to add to the Cedric Paquette/ Yanni Gourde combination.
Despite the win it was not a good game for Andrei Vasilevskiy, there were a couple of unfortunate rebounds but at least the first goal was on him. Today the Lightning offense supported him, scoring enough goals to cover his mistakes, but he needs to get together before start of the playoffs.
Overall the Lightning had a solid game against a decent opponent. The Bolts got distracted once in the middle of second period, allowing two quick goals but avoided another loss when having a lead in the middle of the game.
The first half of the game was pretty much uneventful. Both teams started the game carefully, not trying to unleash their offensive weapons early and just looked closely at their opponent. As the game continued the Lightning took a slight advantage on the Flames, as they were generating more shots on opponent’s net and spent most of the time in their Calgary zone.
With seven minutes left in the period, the Lightning went to their first power play, as Dillon Dube was called for hooking. The coaching staff gave another chance to to the power play combination which was presented in the last game with Mikhail Sergachev on point and Nikita Kucherov at the right circle. With news of Steven Stamkos’ injury the logic of putting Kucherov into Stamkos’ spot has become a little bit clearer.
The Lightning managed to end their goal drought on that power play. Sergachev threw a puck from a long distance, it was deflected by Tyler Johnson’s stick and bounced into David Rittich’s net. 1-0 for the Lightning.
A moment later it looked like the Flames tied the game after a rebound while Andrei Vasilevskiy was out of a position, but after a quick review it was determined the puck was kicked into the net by Mikael Backlund and this goal wasn’t counted. After this disallowing goal, the Flames increased a pressure and Vasilevskiy was forced to step in, making couple of saves.
At the end of the period, the Lightning led the Flames in overall shot attempts 20-12 and had a better expected goal share (57.64%). As Matt pointed out on twitter, most of the Lightning’s shots were taken from the point and three defencemen led the team in shot attempts.
To add, the three players leading the Lightning in shot attempts are Coburn, Shattenkirk, and Bogosian with 7 each. EACH. Cernak and Hedman with 6 each. https://t.co/4rSm7WHzeG— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) February 29, 2020
The Lightning went on their second power play after playing five minutes in the second period. The second PP unit got a chance first, but was quickly replaced by the first unit after taking one shot attempt. Ondrej Palat made it 2-0 scoring after a cross ice pass by Kucherov and a deflection off Michal Frolik’s leg. Mikhail Sergachev was credited with a secondary assist.
Shortly after, the Flames got their first power play as Sergachev was sent to the penalty box. The Lightning had a strong penalty kill, constantly pushing the Flames out of the zone. First Barclay Goodrow intercepted a pass on a blue line and made a rush towards the Flames net, after this moment he and Coleman ran away on 2-on-1 opportunity, but were denied by Rittich. In the end Yanni Gourde picked up a puck at the Lightning zone, smuggled it into the right circle of the Flames zone and fired it into the net, giving the Lightning a 3-0 lead.
Calgary responded quickly in a short stretch. It started when Andrew Mangiopane skated into the Lightning zone and slapped the puck into Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made the initial save, but the puck eventually leaked under his arm into the net. A minute later Johnny Gaudreau stole the puck after an inaccurate Point’s pass, skated through a couple of Lightning defenceman and left it for Erik Gustafsson, who sent the puck to the boards. Elias Lindholm was first on the rebound and his shot after a rebound off Palat’s leg went through Vasilevskiy’s five-hole, cutting the Flames deficit to one goal.
At this point I got strong flashbacks from last game, when the Lightning couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead and allowed five goals during a single period, but this time the Lightning got together and less than minute after the Flames goal scored their fourth goal of the game. Coleman sent Alex Killorn on a 1-on-0 break and he beat Rittich with a beautiful backhand shot.
The second period ended with a big scrum, involving several players from both sides, during the Lightning power play. David Rittich was one of the players who started that scrum, he was persistently getting on the nerves of the Lightning players, including an episode where he held Coleman down on the ice, not letting him stand up. But eventually it was only Ondrej Palat and Rasmus Andersson who served a penalty for slashing.
The Lightning still led the Flames in shots on goal, high dangerous chances and expected goals, but were outshot in total shot attempts. Despite a stretch in the middle of period, when the Flames scored two goals in two minutes, it was a decent period for the Lightning. They were able to hold a two-goal lead and didn’t let things fall apart, when the opponent started pushing.
The Flames cut the Lightning lead to one goal again in the third period after pulling the goalie. The Lightning went on penalty kill and the Flames quickly won a faceoff, Lindholm received the puck while standing back to the Lightning net and delivered it to Sean Monahan who sent the puck past Vasilevskiy. After that moment the Flames had about two and a half minute more playing 6-on-5 but couldn’t save the game.
Despite the opponent’s attempts to tie this game, the Lightning basically controlled the last period. They were leading the opponent in most aspects of the game, including shot attempts and expected goals.
Tyler Johnson (Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov): 1-0
Ondrej Palat (Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev): 2-0
Yanni Gourde (Cedric Paquette, Zach Bogosian): 3-0
Andrew Mangiapane (Mikael Backlund): 3-1
Elias Lindholm (Erik Gustafsson, Johnny Gaudreau): 3-2
Alex Killorn (Blake Coleman, Brayden Coburn): 4-2
Sean Monahan (Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk): 4-3