Following their loss to the New York Rangers, Coach Jon Cooper bemoaned the lack of execution by the Tampa Bay Lightning. A couple of days off and a line shuffle seemed to help things out as the Bolts put on a clinic in Columbus, as they defeated the Blue Jackets, 5-2. Steven Stamkos scored twice while Corey Perry, Ross Colton, and Cal Foote picked up their first goals of the season. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 26 saves in the victory.
The Lightning absolutely dominated the possession stats at 5v5. According to Natural Stat Trick they controlled the shot attempts 64-26 (71%), scoring chances 35-11 (76%), high-danger chances 15-2 (88%) and expected goals (77%).
They were consistently in the face of Columbus netminder Daniil Tarasov with three of the goals coming off of deflections. Meanwhile, they kept Vasilevskiy’s crease clear, especially on a momentum-altering 5-on-3 power play for the home team at the end of the second period.
A little lack of execution led to the opening goal. Patrick Maroon was at the Lightning blueline and couldn’t handle a pass. Columbus got the puck low where Cal Foote lost a puck battle. Justin Danforth centered a pass to Johnny Gaudraeu who ricocheted one home for his first Blue Jackets goal. The cannon went off and Nationwide Arena was rocking as their new favorite player got on the scoreboard.
Johnny Gaudreau (Justin Danforth, Boone Jenner) 1-0 Columbus
The Lightning did find a few moments of offense following the goal. A Cole Koepke shot made it through traffic but trickled wide as the net was dislodged. Nikita Kucherov wired a wrister that Tarasov made a nifty glove save on. He also got a blocker on a Ross Colton shot from in close. So annoying with the saves that Daniil Tarasov.
The first power play went to the Lightning as Cole Sillinger (son of Mike) went to the box for interference. It did not go well. They did not give up a goal (thanks to a save from Vasilevskiy on a point blank shot from Eric Robinson), but they really didn’t generate any dangerous chances.
They were right back on the advantage as Danforth went to the box for hooking Koepke. A face-off win led to an actual shot. It didn’t go in and Vasy had to make another key stop, this time on Sean Kuraly. Things did get better, though.
Sometimes simple plays are the best plays. Corey Perry got inside position on Vladislav Gavrikov. Vlad Namestnikov shot it at the net and Perry deflected it home.
Corey Perry (Vlad Namestnikov, Mikhail Sergachev) Power Play 1-1
The teams traded goals a few minutes later as first Steven Stamkos banked one off of Adam Boqvist. Scorers are gonna score.
Steven Stamkos (Alex Killorn, Haydn Fluery) 2-1 Lightning
The Lightning’s first lead of the season lasted all of 34 seconds as Gus Nyquist beat Vasilevskiy from the right circle.
Gustav Nyquist (Kent Johnson, Eric Gudbranson) 2-2
The assault on the over (6.5) continued as Ross Colton picked up a loose puck and wristed it right over Tarasov’s glove. He skated right between two Blue Jackets and fired it on net.
Ross Colton (Corey Perry, Victor Hedman 3-2 Lightning
That was a fun period.
We’re back after the two teams had a few minutes to think about their defensive woes. Stamkos had the first golden chance but was denied by Tarasov’s left pad.
The Lightning doubled their lead from a slightly unlikely source. Cal Foote was the trailer as Namestnikov entered the zone. He dropped it back to Foote who passed it to Ross Colton. Colten fed it back to Foote who shoveled it wide of the net, but it hit Jake Bean’s
foot skate and went in. Not every goal is going to be a highlight reel type of goal.
Cal Foote (Ross Colton, Vlad Namestnikov) 4-2 Lightning
The Lightning did have to kill off their first penalty shortly after, and they did with the help of five saves from Vasilevskiy. They did a little better job of clearing the puck when they had the opportunity and kept most of the attempts at distance.
Tampa Bay generated a few chances off of a heavy forecheck, but couldn’t find the net as Tarasov made a sparkling pad save on Kucherov. Back to back penalties by Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul led to a lengthy 5-on-3 power play for Columbus. This was the turning point of the game as they killed it off. So that was nice.
The Bolts had to kill off the final 16 seconds of the penalty and they did it fairly easily. The next nine minutes or so were a solid execution of small plays that denied scoring chances for the Blue Jackets and kept them on their heels. It paid off just over 8 minutes in when Stamkos was left alone in front of the net and tipped in a shot from Mikhail Sergachev to make it 5-2.
Steven Stamkos (Mikhail Sergachev, Alex Killorn) 5-2 Lightning
It was an absolute clinic on how to close out the game for the Lightning. Their forecheck forced the Blue Jackets to work the entire length of the ice, and after struggling in the neutral zone early in the game, they pretty much locked it down. Natural Stat Trick had them leading the shot attempt counter 22-8 in the third period at 5v5, and they allowed just 3 scoring chances with none of them considered high-danger.
After a bit of a scattered start in the first period, the Lightning found their groove and dominated the remainder of the game. A few key saves by Vasilevskiy when the game was close allowed them to find their offense and cruise to the 5-2 victory.