LIGHTNING – GAMES 6 TO 10 : RECAP
By Leo Haggerty

PICK YOUR POISON

On this five-game road trip, the Bolts proved they could win in a lot of different ways.  That, my friends, is a sign of a really good team.

They scored goals, 5 in an overtime loss in Minnesota, followed by a half-dozen the following game in Chicago, where the Lightning set an National Hockey League record with 33 shots in the middle period, to garner 3 points.  They played a tight-checking defensive game, shutting out Colorado and then holding Vegas to two markers, to post four more points.  Also, they had a stinker giving up seven goals in Phoenix at the end of the roadie.

Below is a recap of the last five contests.  Enjoy.

GAME 6 – MINNESOTA WILD (L 6-5 OT)

The road trip began on a somewhat sour note in the Twin Cities.  That’s only because the Bolts could have easily come away with two points against the Wild.

Tampa Bay went into the first intermission with the lead.  Goals by W Ryan Callahan (1) and W J.T. Miller (2) were sandwiched around a marker by C Yanni Gourde that put the Lightning up 3-1.

Minnesota got back to 3-2 at the end of the second period. Then the Wild lit the lamp twice midway through the final stanza to take a 4-3 lead.  D Anton Stralman (1) got the Bolts back even at 4 all and that’s how it went to bonus hockey.

Minnesota was able to notch the victory at 3:43 of overtime.  Mikael Granlund (3) slid the puck past G Andrei Vasilevskiy (25 saves) and the Tampa Bay road trip began with an overtime loss.  Some lamentations over letting this one get away but the Lightning did salvage a point.

GAME 7 – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (W 6-3)

There was a huge back story in the Lightning victory in the Windy City.  That was that the Bolts set a NHL offensive record in the 6-3 win.

Each team scored in the opening period.  W Nikita Kucherov (3) drew first blood for the Bolts and Chicago answered with a goal of the own.

In the second period, Tampa Bay peppered Blackhawks G Cam Ward (49 saves) with 33 shots.  That, my loyal readers, is astounding.  You’re talking almost a shot, and here’s the key part, on goal just over every 30 seconds.

Ward managed to stop 30 pucks in that onslaught.  That’s normally what a goaltender in the NHL sees in an entire game.  Tampa Bay put three biscuits in the basket behind him starting with C Anthony Cirelli (3).  That was followed by Gourde (5) and C Brayden Point (5) giving the Lightning a 4-1 lead going to the final period.

Both teams scored twice in the last twenty minutes.  D Victor Hedman (3) made it 5-1 and, after Chicago managed to get two pucks by Bolts G Louis Domingue (33 saves), W Ryan Callahan (3) finished the scoring with an empty-netter with 11 ticks left.

A big two points for the Bolts.  Especially large when you consider the United Center has not been an easy place for the Lightning to garner wins or even overtime losses in the recent past.

GAME 8 – COLORADO AVALANCHE (W 1-0)

In my humble opinion, the best game Tampa Bay played on the road trip was in Denver.  Also, it will be my shortest commentary and you will see why quickly.

After two scoreless periods, and some great end-to-end action, Kucherov (3) took a feed from W Steven Stamkos on the power play.  #86 went top shelf and the puck eluded Colorado G Semyon Varlamov (23 saves).

The Bolts Vasilevskiy (22 saves) made the only goal of the night stand up for a 1-0 shutout win.  Chalk another two points up for the Lightning where the Pepsi Center has been house of horrors for Tampa Bay.

GAME 9 – LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (W 3-2)

The Lightning made it three wins in a row on the roadie with a 3-2 triumph in Vegas.

The MO was the same as the previous four contests with the Bolts lighting the lamp first.  C Tyler Johnson (4) slid the puck by Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury (20 saves) to put Tampa Bay up 1-0 in the first stanza.

The lead was short lived.  In less than two minutes, the Golden Knights knotted the score at one apiece.

Late in the opening period, Point (6) put the Lightning back on top.  It remained 2-1 at the first intermission.

Early in the second, W J.T. Miller (3) gave the Bolts a 3-1 advantage. That lead held up until late in the middle period when Vegas clawed back into the hockey game with a late goal.  That sent both teams to the locker room at the end of the second period with Tampa Bay clinging to a 3-2 advantage.

Vasilevskiy (29) made that stand up as neither team was able to deposit the biscuit in the basket during the final twenty minutes.  That gave the Lightning a three-game winning streak with only the finale against Arizona left.

GAME 10 – ARIZONA COYOTES (L 7-1)

The Bolts got pummeled 7-1 Saturday in Phoenix.  That result was not unexpected and the reasoning for that may sound like excuses but I don’t think it is.

This was a road back-to-back tilt at the end of an extremely grueling five-game road stint.  The Lightning, as a team, had to be tired and they played like they were.

The Coyotes jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period.  Arizona extended the margin to 5-0 by the end of the second stanza.

Tampa Bay finally showed up on the scoreboard midway through the third period.  W Adam Erne  (1) averted the shutout as the Bolts ended the fistful of road games 3-1-1.

A big plus was the performance of the Lightning special teams.  The power play is still clicking and is in the top ten in the NHL.

Penalty kill has been lights out.  Tampa Bay is the top unit in the league in that category.

The bottom line is that Tampa Bay posted a 7-point effort on a very grueling eight-day, five-city road trip through the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.  I’ll take those results and I’ll bet Coach Jon Cooper will do the same.

Look for my next post after Game 15.  That will be a home contest with Edmonton on November 6th.

On a side note, November 6th is Election Day.  Make sure you fulfill you civic duty and vote.