Victor Hedman scored twice in the third period and added an assist for a three-point night, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. The victory earns the Lightning a little redemption against the against the same Blues that they blew a 3-0 lead against two nights ago. Along with Hedman’s two goals, Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat scored for the Bolts.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 of 28 shots on goal in the win. Blues goalie Ville Husso put up a good fight for much of the game, but ended up allowing 4 goals on 35 shots. The Lightning were frustrated offensively for much of the game until Heddy blew the doors open.
Speaking of frustrated, here’s the shot plot from the game. See that big red blob of death in offensive zone for the Lightning? Yeah, they were around that all night long and took lots of shots from in close. Surprisingly, Alex Barre-Boulet led the team in high danger chances with three, with Stamkos, Hedman, Perry, and Killorn rounding up the top-five.
Despite having Erik Cernak back as of last game, the forward group still looked very thin. Only weeks after Barre-Boulet was likely slated to end up back in the AHL, he’s on the first line with Stamkos and Palat. And then the latest prospect, Gabriel Fortier, started on the second line in his second career NHL game. These two things were seemingly done in order to keep the bottom six intact. That’s because they’ve been even or better in terms of goals recently and it’s important to have that locked down, but also because the “big four” in the top-six can probably anchor their lines well enough regardless of who’s with them.
Palat opened the scoring after Ross Colton and Stamkos did well to win puck battles in the neutral zone and create a break coming into the offensive zone. Colton got the puck in the slot and tried to get the puck across to Stamkos who was driving the net, but with all the sticks in the way, Stamkos overshot the puck, but it was Palat following up that banged home the chance.
BB was robbed by Ville Husso from a Hedman pass from behind the net after the defenseman got his initial rebound and drove towards the net.
It was a good first period for the Lightning, who led the Blues in shot attempts 19-13. They had 61% of the expected goals, too. BB with his big chance off the Hedman pass was the biggest chance of the game. Alas, that didn’t go in, but the Lightning were still able to come away with the lead thanks to Palat’s goal from Colton and Stamkos.
I really liked the third pair’s defense in this game. The combination of Zach Bogosian and Mikhail Sergachev attacking the forwards, supporting each other with good skating, and retrieving the puck for plays to go the other way. One thing that definitely helped them was the forwards coming back and both pressuring in the neutral zone, but also coming into the defensive zone further and supporting the play. This team has been very disciplined and looking well-coached so far.
Alex Killorn and Barre-Boulet both took penalties in the period, but it was the Blues power play (the second most efficient unit in the league) with BB in the box that let the Blues tie the game. Moments before the goal, Killorn had been released on a break but couldn’t beat Husso to the far right side.
Brandon Saad tied the game late in the second on the power play after redirecting a shot-pass from Robert Thomas at the right point. Cernak was in the vicinity of Saad but couldn’t get too close because there was another Blues player also near him. Once the shot-pass was coming. Cernak didn’t have enough time to react and that was that.
It was a much more even period between the two teams as the Blues came back with a response to the first period. They led in shot attempts 14-16, and the Lightning only carried 44% of the expected goals. Very even on the whole, but the Blues got the game tied on the second of two power plays.
Jan Rutta stopped a alley-oop pass from Ryan O’Reilly to Brayden Schenn with a leap to deflect the puck and then two sweeps of the puck to get it clear. That play by him stopped Schenn from getting a breakaway and likely a really good chance for the go-ahead goal on Vasilevskiy.
Cirelli! With a power play of their own, Tony gave the Lightning their lead back on a tic-tac-toe passing play between him, Killorn, and Hedman at the point. They scored seconds into the power play, before the TV graphics had even finished. I don’t know what the Blues penalty killers were doing, but they certainly were playing zone and not bothering to get close to anyone either.
Relentless pressure on a power play with Hedman in the box for high-sticking, and the Blues tied the game with Pavel Buchnevich slapshot from the left wing. The Blues had worn down the Lightning penalty killers for over a minute, compounded by a missed clear from Bogosian earlier in it. Cernak tried to block the shot but it got through him and Vasilevskiy.
Hedman! Less than a minute later, the Heddy responded with a huge blast from the point. As far as point shots go, this was incredible. Just the sheer speed and mobility Hedman showed to get from the corner to the middle of the point and then rocket a perfect shot into the top corner through three Blues. Wow, that was special.
And then Heddy did himself one better with an amazing dangle right in front of the net just over two minutes later to provide insurance on his go-ahead goal! The Blues had drifted five guys into the corner just as Hedman left his right point spot for the middle of the net just as Maroon had fished the puck free from the corner. It was perfectly timed as Hedman was all-of-a-sudden staring down Husso and just needed a little dangle to make the goalie bite before he flicked the puck home. And the crowd went wild!
Hedman took a tripping penalty late in the game as the Blues tried to claw themselves back, but the Lightning killed it and the final minutes off to win the game in regulation.