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Lightning show fighting spirit, lose in shootout to Avalanche

Steven Stamkos passes Vincent Lecavalier for second in franchise points.

Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 23: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning shoots the puck for a goal against goalie Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Colorado Avalanche during the shootout at Amalie Arena on October 23, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning took the reigning President’s Trophy winner Colorado Avalanche to the shootout, but ultimately lost in the skills competition, 4-3. In a game where the Lightning once again gave up the opening goal and were forced to play from behind, it never felt like the Lightning were out of it. They were always within one goal and tied the game three times with gutsy goals from key players. While not ideal, the start of the season has been difficult, but there has been marked improvement by this group and the point the team got from this game is another step in the right direction.

Mathieu Joseph, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point all scored for the Lightning. Joseph got his first of the year, breathing some life into the team after falling down a goal. Stamkos scored his 443 career goal, but more importantly assisted on his 875th point, putting him ahead of Vincent Lecavalier for second in all-time franchise points. And Point scored a clutch goal in the dying minutes of the game to send the team to overtime.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was unreal as always, stopping 24 of 27 shots from one of the best offenses in the league. He didn’t face a high volume, but he definitely had to work hard, especially in the overtime. Alas, Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 of 32 to win in a very impressive performance.

Here was the shot plot from the game. It was quite high-event, with a lot of penalties until that key one in the third. The Lightning had good and bad moments in the first two period, but were really strong in the third. If the refs just made a different decision on the Vasilevskiy penalty, things would’ve ended differently.

Natural Stat Trick

I was also feeling better about the Lightning’s heat maps. Namely, they started to get more rebounds in front of the net, which is a key part of the team’s offense. We’ll see the team win more games as that orange bubble starts to get darker.

Natural Stat Trick

First Period

0-1

The Lightning gave up the opening goal yet again after Gabriel Landeskog was left all alone in front of the net to bat home a rebound from Nathan MacKinnon. Careless zone coverage from McDonagh/Cernak and the second line. Namely Cirelli.

Stamkos unlocked a takeaway from an Avs defenseman behind the net on the power play and set up Perry for a Grade A chance, but he didn’t get to the puck in time to bat it in before Kadri knocked it away. It was a great chance with Kuemper looking the wrong way but it just didn’t connect.

And again! Point came rushing into the middle of the slot before passing to Perry in front of the net but he couldn't finish the play either. At least this time Johnson got called for a hooking penalty on the play so the Lightning went to the man advantage because of the chance.

After One

The first period was okay for the Lightning, but they headed into the second period without the lead. The team had a lot of possession and zone time, but they just couldn’t get it all together when the puck got to the net. Either there were Avs sticks in the way, or someone took a penalty. One way or another, it was good defending from the Avs. If you look at the shot map from the first, you’ll see a couple shots right in front of the net for the Avs and not much else, while the Lightning had lots of shots from the perimeter but little in terms of rebounds in front of the net.

Second Period

The Avs had a power play early in the first, and while the Lightning did a good job of keeping chances away, in the final few seconds MacKinnon got open for a one-timer. However, Mikhail Sergachev made a huge block on him and finished the play with a pass up to Joseph for a shorthanded rush the other way. The team really appreciated yet another huge block from the young defenseman.

1-1

Mathieu Joseph!! There’s that offense we were waiting for. A good bit of defense in the Lightning zone led to some great movement in the offensive zone until Joseph found the rebound from Cirelli’s fanned shot in the middle of the slot to tie the game.

Victor Hedman got called for holding Kadri, who split the defense for a breakaway. On the penalty kill, Vasilevskiy reached about four feet to his left to parry away a one-timer from Mikko Rantanen. Vasy was a big part of the defense, making a couple big saves when the Avs were at their most scary.

1-2

As good as Vasilevskiy had been, it wasn’t enough as the Avs kept pressuring the Lightning and the dam broke with a 2-on-1 with MacKinnon to Rantanen connecting for the lead again.

The Bolts fought back in the latter part of the period, but Kuemper was really good. He made a stick save on Ondrej Palat who was all alone in the slot. The deke was to the goalie’s right, but Kuemper sprawled and got his stick on a good high shot by Palat. He made another save on Pat Maroon in front of the net a minute later. As good as Vasilevskiy had been up to that point, Kuemper was keeping up.

Joseph Hit

Man, I don’t know why it’s always Joseph who gets targeted with these hits, but it’s really ticking me off.

As Joseph was entering the offensive zone, Rantanen dragged his left leg and knee-on-knee hit Joseph hard. Joseph went spinning as the Bolts went after Rantanen for a scrum.

Rantanen missed his check, he was either going to see Joseph get behind him, or he was going to clip the side of him. Rantanen chose the second, illegal, path.

Joseph, thankfully, got back up within a couple seconds, but he didn’t look great as he just tried to grab someone and stand there. It was late in the period so he went to the dressing room during the review.

Stamkos was not happy as he pled the team’s case with the referee for some severe punishment.

The refs ended up giving Rantanen and Killorn offsetting minor penalties.

After Two

The Bolts were obviously not happy going into the second intermission. Joseph, their scorer, was out. And the guy who did it, their scorer, stayed in the game. The team had some worrying moments in the second, especially the flurry of chances before the Rantanen goal, but they also came back with chances of their own. In total, the game was pretty tight.

Third Period

Joseph was back for the third.

2-2

Steven Stamkos! After a great chance for Point was stopped by Kuemper, Palat retrieved the puck and fed Stamkos in front of the net to tie the game! Rebound retrieval! That’s what it’s all about. With the goal, Stamkos tied Vincent Lecavalier for second in franchise points.

2-3

It was still neck-and-neck between the two teams getting chances, but then Vasilevskiy got called for tripping (?), sending the Avs to the power play. MacKinnon won the draw on the right side cleanly to Cale Makar. Once the players had spread out to Vasilevskiy’s left, Makar sent the puck back to MacKinnon at the wing. He got all of his shot, as it got past Cernak, who was trying to block the far side, and Vasilevskiy, who was trying to get closer.

Kuemper later got a non-call for a very similar play, which angered the Lightning bench. There were a couple penalties, including one on Colton, that didn’t get called.

Cirelli nearly tied the game after deflecting a point shot in front of the net with two bodies all over him, but Kuemper reached back and somehow stopped the puck from going farther than the goal line.

3-3

Brayden Point! Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy with a little more than two and a half minutes remaining and it paid itself off immediately! With two layers of defense and Corey Perry completely screening Kuemper, Point’s point shot brought the Lightning level with only a few minutes to go before overtime. Wow!

Overtime

Palat-Point-Hedman vs. MacKinnon-Rantanen-Makar. And then there’s Vasilevskiy, wow.

Joseph and Bellemare were under a lot of stick pressure, but they somehow connected in the middle of the ice to create a chance, and a rebound for McDonagh, but they were stopped. MacKinnon went back the other way but Joseph caught him and stopped that play.

Point then got another shot off the rush.

Then Cirelli had a chance off a great fake-shot from Sergachev!

Aaaahh, after a brilliant overtime, we have to go to a shootout.

Shootout

  1. Hedman scores! 1-0
  2. MacKinnon stopped by Vasilevskiy’s left pad! 1-0
  3. Point stopped. 1-0
  4. Rantanen hits the post, but the puck bounced off the post and in. 1-1
  5. Colton misses high. 1-1
  6. Burakovsky stopped by Vasy with the blocker! 1-1 after three rounds.
  7. Stamkos......SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!! 2-1
  8. Landeskog scores. 2-2 after four rounds
  9. Perry couldn’t tuck the puck into the far side after a deke. 2-2
  10. Kadri stopped with the five-hole! 2-2 after five rounds
  11. Cirelli stopped with the pad. 2-2
  12. Makar scores through the five hole, winning the game in the shootout. 2-3.