LIGHTNING RECAP – NOVEMBER 15
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 12 THROUGH 14

In what will be, arguably, the toughest three game home stand of the campaign, Tampa Bay captured five of a possible six points going 2-0-1 over that span.  The reason for my previous statement is the entire trio of opponents were the ones that the Bolts eliminated on their way to the Stanley Cup finals against Montreal last year.

Below is our wrap up of the triumvirate of games.  Enjoy 

CAROLINA HURRICANS 2  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 1 OT

 On Military Appreciation Night, Carolina came from behind to earn a hard fought 2-1 overtime victory over Tampa Bay.  The win moved the 10-1-0 on the season and that puts the Canes at an astounding 21 points.  The overtime loss gave the Lightning a 6-3-3 log which improved the Bolts to 5 points.

After a scoreless opening twenty minutes, the Bolts scored first at 9:00 of the second period. F Steven Stamkos (7) took a great cross ice pass from F Mathieu Joseph (4) and redirected the puck behind G Frederik Anderson (18 saves on 19 shots) to put Tampa Bay on the scoreboard.  The other assist went to F Alex Killorn (5) and that gave the Lightning, even though they were outshot 15 to 5 at that point of the tilt, a 1-0 advantage and that’s the way it would stay at the end of the middle period.

The Hurricanes tied the encounter at 9:56 of the third period with a power play goal. After Stamkos was whistled for a very questionable goalie interference penalty where he was obviously pushed into Anderson, F Teuvo Teravainien (3) put the biscuit in the basket behind G Andrei Vasilevskiy (31 saves on 33 shots) to knot the score at 1 all and that’s how the third period would end leading to extra hockey.

Carolina scored an apparent winning goal at 1:39 of overtime but, after a review, the marker was disallowed due to an offsides. The Canes did get the clincher at 3:26 of the extra period when F Martin Necas (3) found the back of the net to secure two valuable points for the Hurricanes.

Had a chance to ask a question of HC Jon Cooper and Stamkos as well as D Ryan McDonagh.  Their answers are below.

LH : McDonagh blocks a shot in the 5 on 3 and is obviously hurt but he stays on the ice.  That’s just sheer guts, isn’t it?

JC : It’s unbelievable and selfless.  I think the crowd felt it. He’s won a couple of championships here.  That’s effort and being a professional.

LH : What does Carolina do that makes them such a difficult matchup?

RM : They have a great skating team all over the ice.  They forecheck in our D zone taking away time and space.  They are pretty opportunistic team.  They have a lot of skill on their power play.  It’s pretty lethal and they cash in.  We gave them a lot of opportunities but, in the end, we have to find a way to kill it.  That’s why they’re one of the top teams.

LH : The Lightning, as a team, are one of the fastest in the league.  Is Carolina one of the few teams that can go, man for man, with you speed wise?

SS : Yeah, they are really fast and play an up paced game.  We knew it wasn’t going to be one of those east-west games and slow the game down type.  They are pretty structured and they play north and man to man in the zone so you have to beat your guy and that happened on that goal.  They’re a really good team so let’s not kid ourselves right now.  I don’t know what their record is. I think it’s 9-1 but this stretch for us has been pretty good.  That’s six games in a row where we got a least a point. We’re trending in the right direction and getting as many points as we can.

FLORIDA PANTHERS 2  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3 OT

Tampa Bay jumped out to an earlier 2-0 lead but saw Florida come back to tie the score and force overtime.  The Lightning scored in extra time to post a 3-2 victory over the Panthers.  The win gave the Bolts a 7-3-3 log and that adds up to 17 points.  The overtime loss put the Cats at 10-2-3 and that equates to 23 points.

The Lightning dented the scoreboard first at 12:17 of the opening period.  While on the power play, F Pat Maroon (2) was the beneficiary of a superb cross ice pass from F Ross Colton (1) who found #14 parked just outside the crease to the right of G Sergei Bobrovsky (24 saves on 27 shots) and redirected the puck over the goal line.  The second assist went to Killorn (6) and the Bolts moved out to a 1-0 lead.

Tampa Bay increased their margin at 9:02 of the middle period.  D Victor Hedman (2) put the biscuit in the basket with the helpers going to F Boris Katchouk (1) and D Zack Begosian (1) and that put the Lightning up 2 nil.

The Panthers cut the lead in half at 12:59 of the second period.  F Jonathan Huberdeau (4) went top shelf on G Vasilevskiy (28 saves on 30 shots) to put the Cats within striking distance at 2-1.

Florida scored again just 36 seconds later.  F Eetu Luostarinen (5) deflected the puck high into the back of the net to even the score at 2 all heading into the third period.

Both goalies pitched shutouts in the final twenty minutes keeping the score at 2-2 at the end of regulation.  That mean bonus hockey for the second straight game for the Bolts.

The Lightning secured the victory at 2:13 of overtime but it wasn’t easy.  After two phenomenal saves by Vasilevskiy, the Bolts F Ondrej Palat (5) found F Brayden Point (5) all alone at the Panthers blue line.  #21 skated in and was able to a backhander over the goal line to chalk up two big points in the standings.

I was able to get a question in with Cooper and Hedman along with Point after the contest.  Below are their answers to my queries.

LH : With overtime being so fluid, is it harder to get players in and out and make changes?

JC : Well, the tough part is if you don’t have the puck.  We had it a little but each team was giving it up to each other.  We turned it over and they turned it over.  It’s the long change that makes it difficult so you have to have a little bit of control in your game.  That’s because it was just back and forth and there were whistles that afforded a little bit of an opportunity but it can be difficult.

LH : Playing Carolina and then Florida, how much of a difference is it playing those two teams?

VH : It’s different, but at the same time, they’re similar in that they are top teams.  One of the top teams in the league.  They have a different style but they are  both have a lot of skilled players up front.  Carolina is more of a rush team and Florida is more of a possession team.  Carolina doesn’t leave you a lot of time and space and Florida is a team that penetrates. They are two different teams but they are high flying and are strong.  Makes it tough but we’ll see them a lot.  Someone said that we’ve played them 19 teams so I think we know them pretty well.

LH : When you were coming in on that last move, you didn’t have a lot of time and space.  Is it better to come in on a breakaway with speed or like the one you had tonight when you didn’t have a lot of time?

BP : Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot but a breakaway is a good time.  Maybe, sometimes you overthink it and sometimes being close is better.   Anytime you can get one it’s good.  It doesn’t happen often.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS 1  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4

After giving up an early goal, the Lightning stormed back to secure a 4-1 triumph over the Islanders.  The win advanced Tampa Bay to 8-3-3 giving the Bolts 19 points.  The loss dropped New York to 5-5-2 keeping the Isles at 12 points.

It didn’t take long for the Islanders to get on the board.  After an errant pass by the Lightning in their offensive zone, F Zach Parise found F Mathew Barzal (4) behind the Bolts defense for a breakaway.  #13 deked G Vasilevskiy (26 saves on 27 shots) and scored low on the stick side to give New York a 1-0 lead at 2:53 of the opening period.

The lead lasted only 23 seconds as Tampa Bay scored the equalizer at 3:16 of the first period.  Taking advantage of an Islander turnover in their own zone, Killorn (7) pounced on the miscue and found Joseph (2) who deposited the rubber disk over the shoulder of G Semyon Varlamov (28 saves on 32 shots) to tie the tilt up at 1 all.

The Bolts took the lead with just 37 second left before the first intermission.  As a Tampa Bay power play had just come to an end, F Anthony Cirelli (4) went top shelf with assists from Palat (6) and Hedman (10) to put the Lightning up 2-1.

Both goalies came up big in the middle period keeping the score at 2-1 in favor of the Bolts.  Vaselevskiy made 12 saves and Varlamove turned away 3 shots.

The third period was all Lightning with Tampa Bay increased their lead at 13:28 of the third period.  After a scramble in front of the Isles goal, the puck came out of that scrum to Point (6) who put the biscuit in the basket to give the Bolts a 3-1 margin.

The Bolts finished the scoring at 15:30 on the power play.  F Steven Stamkos (8) blistered his patented one timer from the left circle with helpers going to Hedman (11) and Point (6) to complete the scoring at 4-1.

Had a chance to chat with Cooper and D Ryan McDonagh as well as Joseph in the post game interview.

LH : In the last three games, 5 out of possible six points against playoff level competition. That has to be nice, right?

JC : Yeah, if you had told me that was going to happen before we played these three games, I would have taken that all day.  Those are teams we will end up seeing at the end.  We want to get there so we have to beat those teams when you’re at home.  We’ll definitely take those points and we did. Now, we move on to  take on a team that we were suppose to play back in March of, I think, 2020.

LH : How important was Joseph’s goal to get it back to even right away?

RM : It was huge.  It was great. It was a great forecheck and staying above.  Reloading by our forwards led to a turnover.  I was happy for Mathieu.  He just put his head down and shot the puck.  Obviously, you want to be unselfish at times and look to pass but it was a great look for him and I’m glad he shot it.

LH : Both you and Cirelli went top shelf.  Just a coincidence or was that where you were looking to go?

MJ :You know what, I don’t know.  It just happened so fast.  You try to pick a corner.  I didn’t think my shot was very hard but it went in.  Cirelli’s goal was great too.  He’s always looking to find pucks in traffic and stuff like that.  I think you’re just trying to shoot where you think it’s open and, like I said, you see what happens.