The Tampa Bay Lightning added two empty-net goals to break open a close game late as they defeated the Seattle Kraken, 4-1, in a Martin Luther King Day matinee. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s first period tally was the lone offense for most of the game until Nick Paul and Vince Dunn traded goals early in the third period. Brandon Hagel and Victor Hedman added the empty-netters as the Lightning improved to 2-0 on their road trip. They also snapped Seattle’s eight-game winning streak.
Despite a game that featured two of the league’s top offenses for most of the afternoon it was all about defense as both squads looked to limit their opponent’s chances. Through the first two periods the Lightning only allowed 27 total shot attempts and 11 scoring chances by Seattle, a team that averaged around 5 goals during their recent 7-0 road trip. When they did get shots on net, Andrei Vasilevskiy was there to make the stop as he finished 22 saves on 23 shots. The third period featured a little more of a push from the Kraken as they had 22 shot attempts, but zero high-danger chances.
The Lightning came out of the gates strong, with an aggressive forecheck that kept the puck in the Seattle zone for most of the first period. Eventually, it was Corey Perry getting to a loose puck that helped set up a shot from the point by Ian Cole that Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was able to tip past Philipp Grubauer.
Much of the game was played at even strength as the teams combined for only five power plays. The Lightning penalty kill was extremely strong, allowing just three shots total on the Kraken’s three power plays. As for the red-hot Lightning power play, they generated six shots on goal on their two chances, with Steven Stamkos accounting for three of them, but Grubauer was solid in denying their chances.
Stamkos had another strong game with seven shot attempts, five shots on goal, and two high-danger chances. Unfortunately, he couldn’t put one in the back of the net, and the Quest for 500 Goals moves on to Vancouver.
The aggressive forecheck by the Lightning paid off again in the third period as Nick Paul was able to force a turnover by Vince Dunn by the Seattle net. Paul gathered the puck, spun and roofed it over Grubauer for his career-best 16th goal of the season. The two-goal lead was important as Seattle pushed hard after the goal and it was Dunn that would cut the lead to one. A shot by the blueliner hit Ian Cole in front of Vasilevskiy and deflected into the net.
After the goal, the Lightning did a good job of keeping the pressure to the sides, as well as the puck in the Seattle zone. It’s easier to defend when there is 200 feet of ice between the puck and the Lightning net.
Eventually Grubauer, who had 27 saves on 29 shots, went to the bench. The Lightning didn’t waste any time as Alex Killorn backhanded the puck to center ice and Brandon Hagel skated past two Kraken defenders and put the puck into the empty net. Hedman would add another one, after trying to find a seam to pass the puck to Stamkos, less than a minute later to close off the scoring. For Hedman it was just his second goal of the season, and first since October, as the future hall of famer looks to get back on the scoring track.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Ian Cole, Corey Perry) 1-0 Lightning
Nick Paul (unassisted) 2-0 Lightning
Vince Dunn (Adam Larsson) 2-1 Lightning
Brandon Hagel (Alex Killorn, Erik Cernak) Empty Net, 3-1 Lightning
Victor Hedman (Brandon Hagel, Steven Stamkos) Empty Net, 4-1 Lightning