LIGHTNING RECAP – MARCH 2
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 17 THROUGH 20

A great four game stretch for the Bolts.  All four were victories extending the Lightning winning streak to five games but, even more important, eight big points against teams that were at the top of the Central Division.

Here’s how it played out.  Enjoy.

CAROLINA HURRICANES 0 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3
The Bolts rode a hot goalie to a 3-0 shutout of the visiting  Canes.  Tampa Bay moved to 12-4-1 on the campaign and Carolina dropped to 12-5-1 in 2020-21.

Tampa Bay jumped out to an early lead and the first Lightning goal was a significant one.  In his first National Hockey League game, and on his second shift on the ice, F Ross Colton (1) scored his first NHL goal at 6:43 of the opening period.

Had a chance to talk with Colton after the game and asked him how excited he was to get that first goal in his first NHL contest.  He responded, “Yeah, I think that put the icing on the cake.  I think, for me, it was just playing the right way and showing the coaches that I can play at this level.  The goal was just a bonus.  Honestly, I think the team played extremely well and Vasey was awesome between the pipes.  Defensively, it was huge especially when they turned it on at the end.  I think the win was more important and that what made the night better, for sure.”

The Bolts went up 2-0 at 17:27 of the first period.  F Blake Coleman (4) maneuvered the puck past Carolina G Alex Nedeljkovic (25 saves on 27 shots) and that score would stand as both teams went to their dressing room at the end of the first 20 minutes of play.

In the second and third periods, the goalies were the story.  Both Nedeljkovic and Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy (saved all 25 shots) were spectacular with #88 just being a little better.

The Lightning scored with just 35 seconds left in regulation.  F Barclay Goodrow (4) tallied an empty netter to make the final arithmetic 3-0 in favor of Tampa Bay.

CAROLINA HURRICANS 1 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3
Tampa Bay won their third straight contest with a 3-1 triumph over Carolina at Amalie Arena.  The Lightning improved to 13-4-1 this season while the Hurricanes fell to 12-6-1 this year.

The Canes were the first to dent the scoreboard at 14:23 of the opening period.  D Brett Pease (2) put the puck behind Bolts G Curtis McElhinney (31 saves on 32 shots) and that was the only scoring in the initial 20 minutes of play.

Tampa Bay knotted the score at one all 12:39 of the second period.  D Mikhail Sergachev (1) lit the lamp and, all of a sudden, it was a hockey game.

The Lightning took the lead for good at the 6:22 mark of the final period.  F Yanni Gourde (5) deposited the rubber disc behind Canes G James Reimer (19 saves on 21 shots) to give the Bolts their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Goodrow (5) capped the scoring with 1:16 left in regulation.  The empty net score, the second for #19 in as many nights, made the final arithmetic 3-1 in favor of Tampa Bay

DALLAS STARS 0 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 5
The Bolts made it four in a row with a convincing 5-0 whitewashing of the Stars in a rematch of the 2020 Stanley Cup finals at Amalie Arena.  Tampa Bay advanced to 14-4-1 while Dallas declined to 6-6-4.

The Lightning lit up the scoreboard first at 13:18 of the first period.  F Ondrej Palat (8) put the biscuit in the basket to give the Bolts a 1-0.

The Lightning broke the contest open with three second period markers.  The first was a shorthanded score by F Anthony Cirelli (5) at 4:06.  That was followed at 8:17 when F Brayden Point (7) lit the lamp.  F Pat Maroon (2) finished off the middle period trifecta with a power play counter at 15:12.

Tampa Bay completed the scoring at 1:07.  F Steven Stamkos (10) goal gave the Bolts a 5-0 advantage.  That also ended the evening for Stars G Anton Khudobin (11 saves on 16 shots) when he was replaced by G Jake Oettinger (saved all 5 shots) who finished out the contest.

A big part of the Lightning win was Vasilevskiy.  #88 pitched his second consecutive shutout (saved all 20 shots) to keep the Bolts victory train on tracks.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 2 DALLAS STARS 0
The second game of the two game set moved to Texas.  The venue was different but the outcome was the same as the visiting Lightning notched their fifth straight success with a 2-0 victory over the Stars in Dallas.

Again, Vasilevskiy was the key in posting his third consecutive shutout.  “The Big Cat” turned away all 28 Dallas shots as the Bolts raised their record to 15-4-1 while the Stars slipped to 6-7-4.

Tampa Bay got the only goal they would need at 7:29 of the opening period.  Palat (9) managed to get the puck past Khudobin (17 saves on 18 shots) with the Lightning with the man advantage.

That would end the scoring until the last 5 seconds of regulation.  Gourde (6) connected for an empty net tally to make the final score 2-zip.

I asked Cirelli if, because of the changes in the schedule forcing games to become compacted, his between games regiment changed.  He replied, “Yeah, we’re playing a lot of games here so there’s not a lot of time for practice days when we have so many games in a row like this.  I think that it’s good that we keep on building each and every game because we have to work on our stuff in games.  I think it’s good that we’re playing the right way.  We’re working on our system and our structure but, I think, it’s better that we keep on getting games in.”

Because of the juggling of the schedule, now the Lightning are poised to play four games in six days starting Thursday.  The Bolts will head to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks in a rare three game set.  Then, is off to The Motor City to start two game series with the Detroit Red Wings.

Look for our next LIGHTNING RECAP around March 9th.  Until then, stay safe.