LIGHTNING RECAP – APRIL 19
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 41 THROUGH 44

The Lightning have been going through some strange outcomes lately.  Tampa Bay would play well and lose while not playing well and winning.  The exception was their last game where the Bolts played well and were rewarded with a 6-4 victory over Columbus.

Before this quartet of contests, I had a chance to ask Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper the following question that pertains to sticking with the process even if you aren’t rewarded.

LH : Coach, you preach to you players, and they have bought in, to playing the right way.  How nice is it to be rewarded for playing the right way?

JC : Usually, you do get rewarded when that happens but, the thing is that when you’re playing that way and you’re not rewarded, it’s always tough.  For the most part, that’s what happens.  It’s when, just sticking to your plan and sticking to your principles and sticking to your process.  You have to fight through moments where things are just not going your way.  You feel it in your gut that you’re doing the right thing.  When you are doing the right thing, and you don’t get that bounce, you start wondering if it’s worth it.  It’s the guys that stick with it, and it’s the guys that have that discipline, where it pays dividends.  It was nice to jump out last night.  We’ve always though that we have better in us.  One game does not make a season.  We have to build off of yesterday.  It’s a step and we have many more to go.

So, with that query being answered, lets get right to the recap of the last four Bolts tilts.  Enjoy.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3  NASHVILLE PREDATORS 0

Tampa Bay scored in every period as well as riding the back of a hot goaltender and that equated to a 3-0 triumph over Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena.  The win moved the Bolts to 28-11-2 while the loss dropped the Preds to 22-19-1.

The Lightning scored first at 6:45 of the opening period.  F Ross Colton (7) continued to find the back of the net to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead.

The Bolts extended their advantage at 14:04 of the middle period.  D Erik Cernak (2) maneuvered the puck past Preds G Pekka Rinne (31 saves on 33 shots) to extend the advantage to 2-0.

Tampa Bay finished the scoring with just 46 seconds left in regulation.  F Yanni Gourde (14) deposited an empty netter to make the final count 3-0 but the Lightning only needed one goal as Bolts G Andrei Vasilevskiy pitched a shutout saving all 36 shots he faced to garner two precious points.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 2  NASHVILLE PREDATORS 7
The Preds scored three unanswered first period goals and defeated the visiting Bolts 7-2 at the Bridgestone Arena.  The win vaulted Nashville to 24-19-1 while Tampa Bay tumbled to 28-12-2.

The onslaught started at 6:38 of the opening 20 minutes. Preds F Colton Sissons (7) slid the puck past Lightning G Curtis McElhinney (15 saves on 22 shots) and the Predators were just starting.

D Roman Josi (5) made it 2-0 at 8:31.  F Viktor Arvidsson (9) lit the lamp at 13:50 to to give Nashville a 3 goal advantage going into the first intermission.

Tampa Bay cut the margin to 3-1 just 41 seconds into the second period.  F Brayden Point (17) put the biscuit in the basket behind Nashville G Juuse Saros  (21 saves on 23 shots) with the Bolts on a power play.

The Predators answered at 8:09 of the middle period.  F Rocco Grimaldi (9) made it 4-1 going into the final period.

Arvidsson (10) scored his second goal of the evening for the Preds at 9:59 of the third period but Gourde (15) gave the Lightning hope at 11:28 to make it a 5-2 count.

Nashville extinguished all remnants of a Bolts comeback with two more goals.  F Tanner Jeannot (1) scored at 14:34 followed by F Mikael Granlund (11) who changed the scoreboard with 86 seconds left in regulation giving the Predators a series split as well as two big points in the standings.

FLORIDA PANTHERS 2  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3  OT
Tampa Bay came from behind twice and defeated Florida 3-2 in overtime.  The win catapulted the Lightning to 29-12-2 on the campaign and the loss saw Panthers fall to 27-12-5.

The Cats scored first at 15:13 of the opening period.  F Patric Hornqvist (13) found the back of the net to give Florida a 1-0 lead.

The Bolts evened the count at 13:28 of the second period.  F Alex Killorn (11) deposited a power play marker behind Panthers G Chris Driedger (16 saves on 19 shots) to knot the score at one all.

The Cats retook the lead at 7:13 of the final period.  F Anthony Duclair (5) managed to slip the rubber disk past Vasilevskiy    (36 saves on 38 shots) to give Florida a 2-1 advantage.

Again, it was Colton (8) coming up big for the Lightning.  The rookie tied the score at 9:57 forcing overtime.

Tampa Bay ended the contest 54 seconds into the extra period.  D Victor Hedman (8) netted the game winner giving the Bolts a hard earned two points.

FLORIDA PANTHERS 5  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3
The Cats split the series with the Bolts with a 5-3 triumph at Amalie Arena.  That win advanced the Panthers to 28-12-5 and the loss put the Lightning at 29-13-2.

Florida took an early lead in the first period. D Brandon Mountour (6) netted the first at 8:41 and that was followed by a power play counter by Hornqvist (14) at 12:31.

Tampa Bay cut the lead in half at 13:40.  Point (18) lit the lamp to make it a 2-1 hockey game.

The Panthers made it 3-1 with just 8 ticks on the clock before the first intermission.  F Jonathan Huberdeau (15) beat Vasilevskiy (27 saves on 31 shots) to give the visitors a two goal cushion after 20 minutes of play

The Cats stretched the lead at 17:34 of the second period.  F Frank Vatrano (15) gave Florida a commanding 4-1 advantage.

The Lightning cut into the lead with just 45 seconds left in the middle period.  Cernak (3) slid the puck past Florida G Sergei Bobrovsky (28 saves on 31 shots) to make it 4-2.

The Bolts made it exciting just 1:53 into the final period.  F Mathieu Joseph (11) drew Tampa Bay within one at 3-2.

The Bolts could get no closer and the Panthers put the game on ice with just 50 seconds left in regulation.  It was Duclair (6) who posted the empty net score and that allowed the Cats to split the series but, more importantly, get that one extra point for an overtime loss in the first encounter.

So, Tampa Bay ends up with four points during this sequence.  Have a big home series with Carolina on tap and then a pair with Columbus at Amalie Arena.  Look for our next LIGHTNING RECAP around April 26th.