LIGHTNING RECAP – FEBRUARY 22
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 13 THROUGH 16

After having to rearrange their schedule, the Lightning finally were able to get their next four games in the books.  Again, the problem was Dallas but this time it wasn’t the pandemic but Mother Nature was the culprit with a “storm of the century’ hitting Texas with snow and sub freezing temperatures.

I asked F Brayden Point about how this sudden change of opponents and the lack of playing games would effect the team.  He replied, “Yeah, like I said, you can’t control that.  You can always look at the negative side of it but you can also look at the positive.  We get a lot of practice time if that’s the case.  You do get out of the swing of that game flow.  Systems are something we can work on.  You have to be more positive than negative about it.  The weather, the storms in Texas, are effecting people so I hope those people are doing all right.”

This led to an up and down four game set for the Bolts.  Tampa Bay won two while losing two and that was good to add four points to increase the Lightning total to 23 points.

That’s good for third place in the Central Division.  The Bolts are two points behind Carolina and just three points behind division leading Florida with Tampa Bay having a game in hand on both organizations.

Also, I had a chance to talk with Mathieu Joseph about playing both ends of the ice with an emphasis on the defensive end.  He responded, “Absolutely.  I think Coop and the coaching staff are pushing us constantly.  They’re pushing us to play defense because that’s how we won in the bubble.  We were thinking defense first.  When you defend, you make them turn pucks over and it creates opportunities for ever line.  I think it’s very important to be good in your zone.  Like you said, Vasey has been unreal for us.  The defensemen have been huge.  Creating gaps and blocking shots and, I think, the PK did a great job tonight. I think it’s definitely a team effort because everyone is willing to play defense and it definitely helps create offense.”

With all that being said, below is the review of the Bolts games 13 through 16.  Enjoy.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 6 FLORIDA PANTHERS 1
The Bolts won the middle contest of the three game series with the Panthers by a score of 6-1.  Visiting Tampa Bay improved to 10-2-1 while homestanding Florida slipped to 8-2-2.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Lightning explored with four goals in the middle period.  The onslaught started with a power play goal by F Ondrej Palat (6) at 4:11.  F Mathieu Joseph (5) scored an unassisted marker 1:21 later getting the puck past G Sergei Bobrovsky (22 saves on 28 shots) and that was followed by F Tyler Johnson (2 & 3) putting the biscuit in the basket twice.  The first at 12:58 along with the second 12 seconds before the end of the period.

The Panthers dented the scoreboard at 9:47 of the final period.  F Frank Vatrano maneuvered the puck past G Andrei Vasilevskiy (33 saves on 34 shots) to close the deficit to 4-1.

The Lightning dashed any thoughts of a Cats comeback with two goals late in the final period.  F Alexander Volkov (1) scored his first NHL goal at 10:58 and then F Barclay Goodrow (3) closed out the scoring at 15:45 making the final count 6-1.

FLORIDA PANTHERS 6 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4
The Panthers captured the rubber match of the three game set by upending the Lightning 6-4 at Amalie Arena.  The Cats moved to 9-2-2 while the Bolts fell 10-3-1 on the campaign.

Both teams scored in the opening period.  Tampa Bay was first at 6:24 when F Steven Stamkos (8) lit the lamp.  Florida matched that 1:32 later when F Jonathan Huberdeau (5) found the back of the net.

Both teams put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard in the second 20 minutes with the Panthers notching four goals and the Lightning scoring three times.  Florida posted the first three markers of the second period starting with F Owen Tippett (1) leading off at 4:59.  That was followed by Vatrano (4) at  8:39 and F Anthony Duclair (1) beat G Curtis McElhinney (15 saves on 21 shots) at 10:23 to put the Cats up 4-1.

The Bolts cut the margin to 4-2 when Volkov (2) beat G Chris Driedger (27 saves on 31 shots) at 11:42 but Florida responded 1:19 later when F Alexander Barkov (5) scored increasing the lead to 5-2.

The Bolts weren’t finished and scored two goal 48 seconds apart later in the middle period.  Volkov (3) cut the lead to 5-3 at 15:50 and Johnson (4) scored at 16:38 to close the gap to 5-4 going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

It only took the Panthers 59 seconds to regain the two goal margin and it was a former member of the Lightning doing the damage.  D Anton Stralman (1) did the damage and that was all the Cats needed as Florida hung on to register a 6-4 triumph.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 0 CAROLINA HURRICANES 4
Carolina shut out visiting Tampa Bay by a count of 4-0 to start an unusual four game series.  The Hurricanes improved to 12-3-1 while the Lightning dropped to 10-4-1.

After a scoreless opening period, the Canes scored twice in the second period.  F Vincent Trocheck (9) opened the scoring just 2:19 into the contest.  Carolina increased its margin to 2-0 when F Sebastian Aho (6) put the biscuit behind G Vasilevskiy (24 saves on 27 shots) at 15:30.

The Hurricanes notched another pair of markers in the third period.  Former Bolt Cedric Paquette lit the lamp at 3:12 and that was followed by F Andrei Svechnikov (7) with an empty netter at 17:41.

The big story was Carolina G Alex Nedeljkovic.  The Canes netminder stopped all 24 shots he faced to preserve the 4-0 whitewashing.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4 CAROLINA HURRICANES 2
Tampa Bay turned the tables on Carolina with a 4-2 victory at PNC Arena.  The Lightning advanced to 11-4-1 while the Hurricanes fell to 12-4-1.

The Hurricanes scored first at 13:27 of the opening period.  F Jesper Fast (1) put the puck behind Vasilevskiy (34 saves on 36 shots) to give Carolina an early 1-0 lead.

The Lightning tied the score at 2:26 when Stamkos (9) blistered a power play goal by G James Reimer (28 saves on 31 shots).  The Bolts took the lead when D Victor Hedman (4) put the biscuit in the basket at 7:12.

Carolina tied the score just 45 seconds before the end of the second period.  Again, it was Fast (2) but this time on a power play score.

Tampa Bay retook the lead at 3-2 when Palat (7) lit the lamp at 8:04.  The Bolts added an insurance marker when F Alex Killorn (3) found an empty net with 40 seconds left in regulation to make the final score 4-2.

Now the Bolts and the Canes head to Tampa to play the bottom two games of the four game series on Wednesday and Thursday.  Then, the Lightning will try and have a two game home series with Dallas Saturday and Monday.

If that happens, look for our next LIGHTNING RECAP early next week.  Covid permitting, of course.