LIGHTNING RECAP – MAY 6
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 49 THROUGH 52

Another good four-game set for the Bolts.  Tampa Bay went 3-0-1 over that span and that equates to seven big points.

With only four tilts left before the playoffs begin, every game is crucial for the Lightning.  Right now, the Bolts trail the Central Division leading Hurricanes by two points and are tied for second place with the Panthers.  Carolina, with two games in hand, will be hard to catch unless the Bolts win out and the Canes collapse so it looks like it’s a battle for the runner up spot.

Without further adieu, here’s how Tampa Bay fared over this quartet of contests.  Enjoy.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 7  CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 4
The Lightning won their third game in a row with a 7-4 conquest of the Blackhawks at the United Center.  The win advanced Tampa Bay to 33-14-2 while the loss dropped Chicago to 22-22-5.

The Bolts jumped out to an early first period lead.  D Erik Cernak (4) scored just 28 seconds into the contest and F Yanni Gourde (17) followed with a goal at 4:15 to put the visitors up 2-zip.

The Blackhawks cut the lead in half at 11:59 of the opening the opening stanza.  F Brandon Hagel (8) found the back of the net to make it a 2-1 count.

The Lightning answered at 15:04 with their third goal of the opening 20 minutes.  Rookie F Alex Barre-Boulet (2) beat Chicago G Kevin Lankinen (8 saves on 11 shots) to increase the margin to 3-1.

Chicago made it a one-goal game with 2:01 left before the first intermission.  D Wyatt Kalynuk (4) beat Tampa Bay G Andrei Vasilevskiy (36 saves on 40 shots) to make it 3-2 in favor of the Bolts.

The Lightning posted three consecutive counters in the middle period to make the score 6-2.  F Brayden Point (21) started the onslaught against replacement Hawks G Malcolm Subban (15 saves on 19 shots) at 6:40.  That was followed by F Blake Coleman (11) at 9:21 and the trio was completed when F Alex Killorn (13) put the biscuit in the basket at 13:39 with Tampa Bay on the power play.

Chicago got one back with just 32 seconds left before the end of the second period.  D Duncan Keith (4) closed the gap to 6-3 in favor of the Bolts.

The Blackhawks made it interesting at 13:51 of the final period.  F Dominik Kubalik (16) maneuvered the puck into the back of the net to cut the margin to 6-4.

The Bolts added an insurance marker with just 51 ticks left in regulation.  Killorn (14) registered his second goal of the evening with this one of the empty net variety to give the Lightning a much needed two points.

DALLAS STARS 0  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3
The Bolts stretched their winning streak to four games with a 3-0 whitewashing of the Stars at Amalie Arena.  The win moved Tampa Bay to 34-14-2 while the loss left Dallas at 21-17-12.

The Lightning cracked the scoreboard at 14:41. F Ondrej Palat (15) slid the puck past Stars G Jake Oettinger (25 saves on 27 shots) to put the home team up 1-nil.

With both goalies pitching shutouts in the middle period, the Bolts didn’t put up another marker until 8:27.  That’s when Coleman (13)14)     scored a shorthanded goal to make the score 2-0.

Point (22) finished off the scoring for the Lightning with an empty netter at 18:39 but the main story this evening was Vasilevskiy (20 saves on 20 shots) who recorded his fifth shutout.  #88 also became the first Tampa Bay goalie to post four consecutive 30-win seasons as the Bolts put another two points in the bank.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 0  DETROIT RED WINGS 1 SO
This will probably be my shortest article of the season because the entire story in the Red Wings 1-0 shootout victory over the Lightning at Little Caesars Arena were the goaltenders.  Detroit advanced to 18-26-9 with the win and Tampa Bay stumbled to 34-14-3.

All Wings G Thomas Griess (33 saves on 33 shots) and Bolts net minder Curtis McElhinney (15 saves on 15 shots) did was keep every puck shot from getting behind them for 60 minutes of regulation and 5 minutes of overtime.  That moved the tilt to the shootout phase.

Both teams scored in the first two rounds but then the guys between the pipes shut the door.  Again, both teams scored in the seventh round but the contest ended in the eighth round when, after a Bolts misfire, F Sam Gagner slipped the disk behind #35 to give Detroit a hard fought two points but Tampa Bay also chalked up one point for an overtime loss.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 2  DETROIT RED WINGS 1
In another low scoring affair in The Motor City, Tampa Bay managed to eek out a 2-1 win over Detroit.  The victory propelled the Lightning to 35-14-3 while the Red Wings sunk to 18-27-9.

The Bolts scored first just 16 seconds into the contest.  Coleman (14) found the back of the net to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead.

The Lightning increased their margin at 1:09 of the middle period.  D Mikhail Sergachev (3) put the puck behind Wings G Jonathan Bernier (40 saves on 42 shots) to give the Bolts a 2-nil advantage.

Detroit cut the lead in half at 13:37 of the second period. F Filip Zadina (6) managed to put the biscuit in the basket behind Tampa Bay G Chris Gibson (22 saves on 23 shots) but that was the only puck that would elude #33 all evening.

In fact, both goaltenders shut the door in the third period making the final arithmetic 2-1 in favor of the Lightning.  That gave the Bolts a big two points in their battle for the top spot in the Central Division.

Tampa Bay finishes out the regular season with a couple of home games with the Stars then heads to South Florida for two tilts with the Panthers.  Look for our next LIGHTNING RECAP around May 13th right before the playoffs commence.