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Austin Watson’s first goal as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Sep 27, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Austin Watson (51) and Nashville Predators right wing Michael McCarron (47) exchange hits during a fight in the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the summer free agency period began, Austin Watson wasn’t likely on general manager Julien BriseBois’ radar. At the end of the summer, it was long shot that Watson would make it through training camp after signing a PTO with the team in late August. If Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t require back surgery to open the season, Watson probably doesn’t turn that PTO into a contract that allowed Mr. BriseBois to come within pocket change of the maximum amount of salary relief from his injured players.

Yet, despite all of those hurdles, there was Watson on Monday night scoring his first goal as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a big one as it tied the game at three after the Lightning had surrendered two quick goals to the best team in the league.

This is a prototypical bottom-six goal. Nothing fancy happens, there are no behind-the-back passes or blistering one-timers.

We pick up the play with Tanner Jeannot and Anthony Cirelli winning a puck battle along the boards and shooting it up along the boards to Victor Hedman. Hedman slings it back around the boards where Nick Perbix reads it perfectly. The young defenseman pinches in and reverses it back to Cirelli behind the net.

Cirelli draws the attention of Charlie McAvoy and Mason Lohrei. Once Lohrei reaches for it, Cirelli slides the puck to Watson who is ready with his stick on the ice. That’s key as Brad Marchand reads the danger and is knocking Watson to the ice as the puck gets there. However, Watson is able to get the shot off.

Jeremy Swayman is hugging the near post, leaving plenty of room at the far post. Give Jeannot credit for shielding McAvoy out of the play so he can’t block the shot.

It’s Watson’s first goal since March of 2023 when he scored against the Philadelphia Flyers while he was with the Ottawa Senators.

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