Tampa Bay Lightning Game 52: versus the Montréal Canadiens

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montréal Canadiens 3-0 for their first three game winning streak of the season.

This was the kind of game that Lightning fans enjoy – and frustrates them to no end. It’s a tease. You see the team play like this and it gets your hopes up. Then they have a game like they did against the New York Rangers where they lose 8-2, and you just want to pull your hair out. At least be consistent about it, you know? Either play well or don’t – don’t do both!

But this is how it goes in a transition year. You have your ups and downs. And typically it changes from game to game. It’s when teams start to get streaky after a while about it – stringing more than three wins in a row, followed by not have more than three losing games in a row – that’s when you know that you’ve really turned a corner.

Antero Niittymaki made his seventh consecutive start, and earned his first shutout of the season. He was the Lightning’s best player – and was named the first star of the game. Not too bad, considering the rough starts he had last week.

The highlight of the game was when Victor Hedman got into a fight. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t much of a fight. Despite Hedman losing his jersey and his shoulder pads, it was more of a wrestling match, really. Everyone sort of jumped in to protect Niittymaki from being run, and Hedman was more enthusiastic than most about it so he took it a step too far. In the ensuing scrum also resulted in a potential Vincent LecavalierMike Cammalleri matchup, but both thought better of that and skated away.

Lecavalier was a force in the faceoff circle. He won all nine of his faceoffs in the first period. And he ended up winning 14 out of the 18 draws that he took. That’s winning 78% of all of his faceoffs for the game. And, he also got a sweet between-the-legs goal as well. So good for Vinny.

Steve Downie was the best player on the ice for both teams. That’s not something most people associate with Downie – "best player" – but he was a force to be reckoned with. He did everything but score a goal and get into a fight. Statistically, he dominated just about everyone. It’s really good to see Downie turn things around like that for himself.

Video Highlights

The next game is against the Anaheim Ducks at home on Friday, 29 January. Game time is the customary 7:30 pm Eastern. The Ducks lost 5-1 to the Washington Capitals last night, so they’ll be wanting a good game to bounce back from that.

Canadiens vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Habs Eyes On The Prize [SB Nation Montreal Canadiens site]

Canadiens vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Canadiens vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]