Game 47: Tampa Bay Lightning at Phoenix Coyotes
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3.
That's right. The Lightning won their second road game in a row. Not only that, but they also won back-to-back games on the road. In the Western Conference.
Yes, we've officially hit the delirium stage of the season.
Okay, not really. The Lightning looked tired in this game - and for good reason - but they managed to eke out a win at the end. They've been playing much more as a team than they have for much of the season. And, in the end, that's what has been helping them into the win column.
It still hasn't been easy. Ryan Malone left the game early, and did not return. Steve Downie was playing with a stitched up mouth, and opted out of wearing a full cage for the game. And then, Steven Stamkos helped make things very interesting at the end of the game by taking two penalties; and on one penalty kill, that cost them a goal.
Dwayne Roloson had a very good night, facing 36 shots and letting in only three. And I can still say "very good" since one goal was on a shorthanded breakaway, and the other was a power play goal scored against him. Remember, this is a man who hasn't won a game since November, so anything is "very good" compared to losing.
Even still, late in the third, he was ran into and collapsed to the ice. He finished the game, but it wouldn't be surprising if he was held out of Tuesday's match due to a stiff neck. He lay sprawled on the ice for a few minutes before getting up, and was clearly flexing his neck after he did. This is pure speculation on my part, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see Dustin Tokarski backing up Mathieu Garon in the next game.
The defense didn't look as shaky as it had previously. And, in fact, both Eric Brewer and Pavel Kubina were a +3 on the night - even before the Coyotes started scoring. Of course, a shorty and a power play goal against doesn't count when it comes to +/- statistics, but it sure looks good, all the same. All four of the Lightning's goals were even-strength.
Faceoffs were not one of the good stories for the night. The overall team winning percentage was 47%, but for most of the night, it wasn't even that good. Vincent Lecavalier won 8 out of 18 faceoffs (44%), while Stamkos won 6 of 17 (35%). Frankly, the team needs their top two centers to be better than that.
The next game is Tuesday, 24 January, at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is 7:30 pm ET. This is the last game for the Lightning before the NHL All-Star Break, and they will not play again until the following Tuesday, 31 January. If you're not attending the game, then please stop in and say hi. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 7 pm ET.