LIGHTNING RECAP – NOVEMBER 21
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 15 THROUGH 16

Calling an audible here.  Being that the Buccaneers are playing the Giants Monday night at Raymond James Stadium, we are moving our Lightning Recap up today and dropping the Bucs Recap to Monday.

Being that the Bolts play Sunday evening after we post this column, we will include that contest in the next Lightning Recap. Thanks for understanding our reasoning for this.

The Bolts were 1-1 in the two games that happened this week. Below is the recap of Games 15 and 16.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4  PHILADELPHIA FLYERS 3  SO

 After falling behind early for the second consecutive game, Tampa Bay stormed back to take the lead late in the third period only to see Philadelphia send the game to extra hockey with a goal with just nine seconds left in regulation. After an intense non-stop five-minute overtime period, the Lightning secured a much needed two points with a 4-3 shootout triumph over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. That moved the Bolts to 9-3-3 on the campaign for 21 points. The overtime loss advanced Philly to 8-4-3 totaling 19 points.

For the second consecutive game, the opposition score an early breakaway goal. Tonight, it was Philadelphia F Claude Giroux (6) lighting the lamp just 1:34 into the contest to put the Broad Street Bullies up 1-0.

The Flyers increased their margin at 10:21 of the first period. F Travis Konecny (5) beat G Andrei Vasilevskiy (27 saves on 30 shots) on another semi-breakaway that gave Philly a 2-0 advantage.

The Lightning cut the lead in half at 1:51 of the middle period. F Brayden Point (7) notched a power play score with the assists going to F Steven Stamkos (9) and D Victor Hedman (12) to cut the lead to 2-1 in favor of the home team.

The Bolts scored the equalizer at 14:52 of the second period. F Mathieu Joseph (3) maneuvered the puck past G Carter Hart (29 saves on 32 shots) to tie the score at two apiece. The helpers went to F Alex Killorn (8) and D Zach Bogosian (2) and that’s what the scoreboard would read as both teams went to their locker rooms for the second intermission.

Tampa Bay took its first lead of the evening with just 1:56 left in regulation. Stamkos (9) shot the puck from an almost impossible angle close to the goal line and it trickled into the net. The assists went Hedman (13) and Killorn (9) to give the Lightning what seemed to be a safe 3-2 lead.

That was not to be the case as the Flyers scored with just nine ticks left in the third period. With the goalie pulled for the extra attacker and a faceoff to the right of Vasilevskiy, F Derick Brassard drew the puck perfectly to Giroux (7) who found a way to get the rubber disc through a crowd from the right point to tie the contest at three each.

Now, the fireworks would begin. Both Hart and Vasilevskiy came up huge in the five-minute overtime that had no break in the action. That sent the game to a shootout where Stamkos and Point both scored while #88 stoned both Philly shooters and that put the tilt in the win column for Tampa Bay.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS 5  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3

Down 3-1 going into the third period, New Jersey stormed back with four unanswered goals to come away with a 5-3 triumph over Tampa Bay.  The win moved the Devils to 8-5-3 and that equates to 19 points.  The loss dropped the Lightning to 9-4-3 and kept the Bolts at 21 points.

The Lightning scored first at 5:49 of the opening period. After intercepting a clearing pass, D Jan Rutta (2) put the puck behind G Mackenzie Blackwood (31 saves in 34 shots) from the slot between the dots. That gave the Bolts an early 1-0 advantage.

The Devils dented the scoreboard at 13:56 of the first period. F Yegor Sharangovich (1) took a pass from Alexander Holtz in the low slot and put the biscuit in the basket behind Vasilevskiy (22 saves on 26 shots) to knot the score at one all.

The Bolts retook the lead with just 1:45 left before the first intermission. With Tampa Bay on the power play, F Pat Maroon (3) was parked just to right of the crease and saw the loose puck right in front of the goal. #14 made no mistake with the assists going to F Ross Colton (2) and D Mikhail Sergachev (5) to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.

The Lightning increased their lead at 6:17 of the middle period. Hedman (3) took a perfect feed from F Boris Katchouk (2) as #77 was pinching toward the net and went top shelf. The other helper went to Rutta (3) as the Bolts moved out to a commanding 3-1 lead.

New Jersey cut the deficit just 1:12 into the final period. F Dawson Mercer (6) deposited the puck in the net to reduce the Tampa Bay margin to 3-2.

The Devils came all the way back at 5:39 of the third period. D P.K Subban sent F Jimmy Vesey (4) on a breakaway going high to the glove side to tie the score at three each.

The Black & Red took their first lead of the afternoon at 9:35 of the final period. Sharangovich (2) took a feed out of the corner from F Jesper Bratt and blistered a one timer into the back of the net. That gave New Jersey a 4-3 advantage.

At 10:06, the Lightning have a chance to tie. Point was tripped on a breakaway and was granted a penalty shot. #21 hit the crossbar keeping the score at 4-3 in favor of the Devils.

The Devils put the nail in the coffin with an empty net score at 18:44.  F Tomas Tatar (2) tallied into the unguarded goal to make the final score 5-3 in favor of New Jersey.

Had a chance to chat with Rutta and Maroon as well as Cooper after the games.  Below are their answers to my specific questions.

LH : The team has a 2-on-0 breakaway and the goalie makes a great save and then Point hits the crossbar on the penalty shot.  Did you start to think then that it was just not going to be your night?

JR : No, we had chances and the goalie made some saves but, overall, we had the lead.  We have to do a better job of protecting it especially in the third period.

LH : On your goal, the puck is just sitting there in front of you.  Are you just trying to get a stick on it and hit it toward the goal or are you trying to lift it?

PM : No, obviously, the goalie was out of place so I’m just trying to get a stick on it.  Get it in as quick as possible and on the net.  I’m just trying to get a stick on it and make things happen.

LH : On the goal by Hedman, was that a set play or was it just him pinching in and hoping someone will feed the puck to him?

JC : It’s in our offensive scheme.  This isn’t football where you can call a play but we know where guys are suppose to be.  It was a heck of play by Ross, I think.  Good movement and a great shot and, right then, you go up 3-1 and you should be putting the nail in the coffin at some point in this game and shutting it down.  We clearly did not do that.  Some old bad habits definitely crept into our game in years where we didn’t go that far into the playoffs.  Hopefully, it was a learning experience for us.