The Tampa Bay Lightning took home two points in a 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on the road on Thursday night. Steven Stamkos led the way with two goals and an assist, while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 of 35 shots in the win while facing nearly 5 expected goals from the Devils, as well as saving two of three in the shootout.
Mikhail Sergachev featured with two assists in 28 minutes of ice time, while Nikita Kucherov earned his 70th assist of the season. Ross Colton, who’s from NJ, scored the opening goal and another in the shootout.
On the Devils side, Timo Meier came out big in the third period, scoring twice. Captain Nico Hischier got two assists in the loss, as well. Goalie Akira Schmid allowed three goals on 24 shots and two goals on three shootout shots faced.
The Bolts definitely weathered a storm in the second half of the game as the Devils came at them with everything they had. A even strength goal right after the 5v3 kill and the power play goal with five minutes left kept the Devils at arm’s length enough to get the overtime and eventually win.
The Lightning are now one point back of Toronto for second in the Atlantic with the Leafs holding two games in hand. They play a back-to-back between Friday (Carolina) and Saturday (Ottawa) while the Lightning have a back-to-back between Saturday (Montreal) and Sunday (Devils again). The schedule for both teams are essentially even the rest of the way with the advantage of the Lightning having two more games in the bank.
The two teams are going to play each other, the questions just becomes how’s everyone going to be feeling once we get there.
Ross Colton, who hails from New Jersey, tipped a Sergachev shot in from the front of the net for the opening goal on the team’s only second shot of the game. Paul made sure to get Stamkos the puck on a tough faceoff and the captain set up Sergachev for the shot. Good play all around from the group.
Excellent first period from the Lightning, taking the lead and carrying that forward with the shots advantage (25-16). The Devils would make adjustments and come back in the second, but that first goal kept them at arm’s length from getting the lead.
Mercer and Hischier backed off the defense all the way to the blue paint, Tatar buried it. The Devils showed rush speed and attacking pressure like this a few times in the game and this time it got them a goal.
Paul robbed after being left completely alone in front of the net. None of the defenders picked him up, but Schmid dove across and trapped the puck within him. Paul couldn’t do anything else but smile at the full desperation glove save.
Stamkos picked the top corner on a goal the Lightning will be laughing about and the Devils kicking themselves over. The Devils were given a full two minute 5v3 power play in the latter stages of the second period. On it, they took 10 shots like a machine gun but couldn’t beat Vasilevskiy, who stopped about 1.5 expected goals between that penalty kill and the two big chances that led up to it.
The Devils should have scored at least one goal on volume alone, but by the end they ended up with a deficit again. Good plays by Bellemare who was killing the penalty and Cernak who also got out of the box with Stamkos for the counterattack. They pulled the tired power play defenders in and Stamkos found the soft spot.
Failing to get anything going on two power plays back-to-back was a letdown for the Lightning, but they made up for it in a big way with that double penalty kill later in the period and instantly capitalizing the other way. It took a game that was going to be tied with all the momentum going in New Jersey’s direction into another lead for the Lightning and a much more tenuous third.
Meier found Hischier in front of the net for a chance. Vasilevskiy stopped him, but the rebound went to the side of the net for Meier to get the puck back and score. None of the Lightning players who were around could pick up the rebound.
The Lightning surely thought they had won it when Stamkos wired a big blast from his office on the power play with five minutes to go to break the tie. Excellent work by Sergachev and Kucherov to swing the puck around the top quickly to tee Stammer up. The goal was Stammer’s 29th of the year and Kucherov’s 70th assist.
But two minutes later, with the Devils on their own power play and six skaters out, Meier took a slapshot from distance and found the top corner on the short side before Vasilevskiy could get there. It was his second goal of the game.
The Lightning fought hard to keep their lead in the third, but the Devils were overwhelming with their offense. Eventually they broke through after keeping up their shots pace from the end of the second.
In overtime, the Devils had the majority of the puck and most of the shots (4-6). Whenever the Lightning had the puck they were much more slow and methodical, which didn’t result in very much in terms of open looks and moving the goalie from their position.
The game went to a shootout without much excitement. Kudos to Point for a good chance and his hard work throughout.
Timo Meier - stopped!
Ross Colton - scores!
Igor Sharangovich - scores
Steven Stamkos - stopped
Jesper Boqvist - stopped!
Alex Killorn - scores!
Good moves from Colton and Killorn who both went short-side low on Schmid.
Killer wins it for the @TBLightning in the shootout! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/ZJfsJZcjFO— Bally Sports Sun: Lightning (@BallyLightning) March 17, 2023