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Ducks play like Bats out of Hell and beat Lightning, 5-1

Anaheim took advantage of the Lightning’s plentiful mistakes

Tampa Bay Lightning v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images

Derek Grant scored twice and John Gibson stopped 32 of 33 shots for the Anaheim Ducks as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1, spoiling Corey Perry’s return to the team he spent most of career with. Ross Colton had the lone Lightning goal while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 shots of his own in suffering his first career loss to the Ducks.

It’s been two years since the Lightning traveled to Anaheim and they might have missed where the signs along the highway all said, “Caution, Kids at Play!” The young Ducks seemed to have an extra jump from the get go as they swarmed all over the Lightning in the first period. According to Natural Stat Trick the Ducks posted a 70% shot share (28-12), and a 61.63% edge in expected goals.

You could almost feel that the Ducks were going to score first, but thanks to Vasilevskiy’s play it didn’t happen until 8 minutes into the period when Derek Grant cut into the Lightning zone and used Mikhail Sergachev as a screen before lasering a shot past Vasy’s glove hand. Was it too easy for the Ducks to transition down the ice, yes, but that was a heck of a finish by Grant.

Derek Grant (Isac Lundestrom, Hampus Lindholm) 1-0 Ducks

The Ducks continued to dominate the play, but it looked like the Lightning would have a chance to draw even as they drew a late penalty. Other than a wicked one-timer from Steven Stamkos to start the extra-skater session, there wasn’t much pressure by the Bolts. As the penalty expired, the Lightning were caught unawares and the Ducks caught them on an odd-man rush. Old friend Kevin Shattenkirk poked home a rebound to make it 2-0 with just six seconds left in the period.

Kevin Shattenkirk (Greg Pateryn, Sam Carrick) 2-0 Ducks

The Lightning were determined to play a little better to begin the second and they almost found paydirt when Boris Katchouk found Ross Colton with a nice pass in front of the net. Gibson had to make a stellar stop to keep the Lightning from slicing into the lead.

Any momentum they built over the first few minutes was blunted when the Lightning took back-to-back penalties. First it was Alex Killorn (his roughing penalty killed off a Lightning power play). They went out of the frying pan and into the fire when Andrej Sustr took a penalty right after when he was absolutely turned around by Richard Rackell.

Derek Grant scored his second of the night on a bit of a bummer play for the Bolts. Andrei Vasilevskiy slid to his right to make a save, but caught an edge and kind of tumbled out of the play. Grant was in the right spot to slide the puck home.

Derek Grant (Vinni Lettieri, Jamie Drysdale) Power Play 3-0 Ducks

It did seem like the third goal woke them up a bit. So did the fact that Coach Cooper mixed the lines up a bit, reuniting the School Bus Line and moving Cirelli up to the top line with Kucherov and Point. Try as they might, they couldn’t get one past Gibson. Some days it don’t come easy, some days it don’t come hard. Some days the goals don’t come at all and those are the days that never end.

Neither did the parade to the penalty box at the end of the period. First it was VInni Lettieri for holding. A quick shot off the draw was deflected away by Gibson and then Alex Killorn took a holding penalty. The four-on-four lasted all of 43 seconds before Jamie Drysdale took down Ross Colton who was driving to the net.

All of that chaos and no goals to show for it.

Down three to start the final period isn’t an ideal way to spend a Friday night. Going down four is even worse. Once again, the Ducks had plenty of open ice to work with and Vinni Lettieri wristed a shot past Vasilevskiy. The Lightning goaltender most likely wants this one back.

Vinni Lettieri (Sam Steel, Kevin Shattenkirk) 4-0 Ducks

The Lightning were able to produce a little more offense thanks to a Ducks penalty, but Gibson stoned Brayden Point with a nice right toe save as Pointer swooped through the crease.

Just as the power play expired, so did Gibson’s shutout. Ross Colton, the only thing in this whole world that’s pure and good and right, wherever he is and wherever he goes, there’s going to be some light, smoked a one-timer past him to make it, 4-1 and breathe a little life into the Lightning.

Ross Colton (Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli) 4-1 Ducks

Another power play for the Lightning (they had eight on the night) seemed to be just what the doctor ordered as the first unit put on a clinic in moving the puck around the zone. Twice Steven Stamkos was set up in his office and twice Gibson denied him. Brayden Point was also turned aside from the slot as the Anaheim goaltender had himself a game. Just for fun he topped Stammer one more time:

With the Lightning on yet another power play, Coach Cooper rolled the dice and pulled the goaltender. It didn’t work as Nicolas Deslauriers shuffled one all the way down the ice and into the empty net.

Nicolas Deslauriers (Unassisted) Empty Net 5-1

Empty Net goals don’t get highlights

That would be the final score. Cal Foote and Buddy Robinson had a little tussle at center ice, but that was it for excitement for the last five minutes of the game. From the get go this one was always slipping through the cracks. By the second goal the movie was over, fade to black. Too many turnovers and too sluggish of a start doomed the Lightning on this night.

The Lightning are right back on the ice tomorrow as they take on the San Jose Sharks. A win against the Sharks would make for a nice end to the road strip. Now don’t be sad, ‘cause two out of three ain’t bad.