For the first 27 minutes of the game it looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning were in store for another night of watching a young netminder take everything they threw at him and leave them goalless. Lukas Dostol was doing his best Connor Ingram impression until Nick Paul finally scored at the 7:15 mark of the second period. Then Ross Colton scored. Then Anthony Cirelli. Then Zach Bogosian. By the time the dust settled the Lightning had a 6-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Brayden Point and Corey Perry added third period goals as the Lightning had 80 shot attempts on the night. Mason McTavish ruined Andrei Vasilevskiy’s bid for a shutout in the third period, but Vasy picked up the win with a strong 24 save performance. The Bolts went 2-for-5 on the power play and killed off all four shorthanded opportunities. Lukas Dostol finished with 38 saves on 44 shots.
The refs apparently aren’t fans of 5v5 analytics as they signaled for three penalties early in the game. The Lightning had the first crack with the extra skater but failed to generate much in the way of offense. Anaheim went back-to-back with their power plays, also failing to score, in fact, they allowed a couple of chances by the Bolts shorthanded unit with Ian Cole snapping a quality shot from the slot on a 3-on-2 rush.
While they didn’t score on their power plays Anaheim did garner a little confidence and created several solid chances at even strength. This shouldn’t be a game where the Lightning have to rely on the athleticism of Andrei Vasilevskiy to keep it scoreless, yet there they were midway through the period standing around watching him flail his legs around like a dying palmetto bug to keep the puck out of the net. Mason McTavish likely went back to the bench after a shift to see how Vasy, who was on his stomach, kicked out back-to-back shot attempts from the slot.
Another day at the office I guess ♂️@TBLightning | #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/pMNcnRibk3— Bally Sports Sun: Lightning (@BallyLightning) February 22, 2023
As usual with the Lightning, a slow start doesn’t really phase them too much and they solved their coverage zone problems in the defensive zone by spending more time in the offensive zone. It didn’t generate any goals, but it did lead to another power play and the first unit had some solid zone time and two good chances (one from Nikita Kucherov and one from Seven Stamkos) that Dostol had to be clean on to make the saves.
In the limited 5v5 time (11:45) the Lightning did end up dominating possession with 20 shot attempts and an 11-5 edge in scoring chances.
The pressure continues after the puck dropped in the second period with the Nick Paul line getting into the zone and the Cirelli line keeping it in. It looked like Alex Killorn had chipped a backhander past Dostol, but it somehow went through the crease, hit the far post and stayed out. The play did lead to another power play for the Bolts, and while they spent the entire two minutes in the zone, all they really did was dent the boards behind the net and break in Dostol’s glove as he snatched a couple of shots out of the air.
Sometimes it’s the simplest plays that pay off. Nick Perbix stopped an entry into the zone, and fed the puck to Nick Paul. Paul entered the zone, saw his passing options were covered and ripped a shot onto net. It might have caught a piece of the defender, but regardless it beat Dostol five-hole and Paul finally had his career-best 17th goal of the season.
Nick Paul (Nick Perbix) 1-0 Lightning
More pressure from the Lightning led to another penalty. Much like the first power play in this period the Lightning kept the puck in the zone and eventually Ross Colton unleashed a one-timer from the right circle that beat Dostol cleanly. It was the Lightning’s 14th shot of the period and it felt like the fragile defensive wall the Ducks had put up was crumbling.
Ross Colton (Mikhail Sergachev, Alex Killorn) Power Play, 2-0
The flood of goals continued as Alex Killorn had time to circle the puck in the Ducks’ zone. He dropped it to Perbix whose slotted diagonal pass was right on Anthony Cirelli’s stick. Dostol had no chance as Cirelli made a quick move and backhanded it into the goal.
Anthony Cirelli (Nick Perbix, Alex Killorn) 3-0 Lightning
Anaheim had absolutely no answer for the Lightning pressure. Their decision to collapse around the net proved to be a poor one as the Lightning were able to drive into the zone and maintain possession on shots that were stopped or went wide. It led to Zach Bogosian having a wide open space that The Chicks would be jealous of and he ripped a slapper through everybody and everything for the fourth goal of the night.
Zach Bogosian (Pat Maroon, Ross Colton) 4-0 Lightning
It took the Ducks 18:51 to record a shot on net, but of course it was a doozy and Vasilevskiy, who may have been dreaming about kittens all period, had to be on form to make the stop after a mix-up behind his net led to a point blank shot from Zegras in the slot.
If you have any fond feelings for the Ducks (either the team or the movie series) you may want to skip the next few sentences. The Lightning finished the second period with a 32-4 edge in shot attempts, 22-1 in shots on goal, 17-2 in scoring chances, and 9-1 in high-danger chances. The expected goal percentage edge for the Lightning - 95.46%. There haven’t been many periods that dominant by any team in any game this year.
They did not come out flat in the third period. More pressure to begin the final frame led to an early power play. After being stymied the first four times, the first unit didn’t mess around this time. They worked the puck around the perimeter until space opened up in the slot for Brayden Point and he didn’t miss, picking the corner for his 200th career goal.
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Brandon Hagel) Power Play, 5-0 Lightning
Frustration from Anaheim boiled over as Max Jones took exception to a hit from Sergachev and the two tussled. A few meaningless punches from each combatant and then a takedown by Jones made it a short altercation.
Did it spark the Ducks? Well, not really. Corey Perry was left alone in front of the net and redirected a bullet pass from Vlad Namestnikov for his first goal against the franchise he scored 372 goals for.
Corey Perry (Vlad Namestnikov, Nick Perbix) 6-0 Lightning
Sam Carrick didn’t want Jones to be lonely in the penalty box and accepted Pat Maroon’s offer of a fight. Unfortunately the referees didn’t care for the fact that the altercation came during a stoppage in play and issued them both misconducts along with their fighting majors. So instead of the box, they headed to the showers.
Following the fight, it seemed the Lightning finally took the foot off of the gas. A turnover led to a Zegras breakaway that Vasilevskiy stopped, but the Lightning never got organized and Ryan Strome was able to put the puck into the back of the net.
Ryan Strome (Cam Fowler, Trevor Zegras) 6-1 Lightning
The Ducks also picked up a power play shortly after that the Lightning dealt with easily. From there on the Bolts were back to controlling play and not taking shortcuts. They stood the Ducks up in the neutral zone, cleared the puck cleanly when it did get in their zone and found some chances (Alex Killorn with a nifty one-on-one move on Kevin Shattenkirk). The offense was nice, but holding the Ducks to just 25 scoring chances all game long (19 at 5v5) will also make the coaches happy.
When Vlad Namestnikov fired a backhander on Dostol with 3:52 left in the game, every skater for the Lightning was credited with a shot on goal. That was nice. A late slashing call on Bogosian let the Bolts pick up one more penalty kill and run their home-point streak to 15 games (14-0-1).
They will look to make it 16 in a row against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.