LIGHTNING RECAP – DECEMBER 1
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 17 THROUGH 20

The Lightning garnered six out of a possible eight points in this four-game span.  Due to the fact that I am suffering from an ear infection that has not allowed me to listen to the postgame quotes, I will post the recap without them.  As soon as I regain my hearing, I will add those comments to this column.  Thanks for understanding.

MINNESOTA WILD 4  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 5 SO

In what has become a disturbing trend for the Lightning, Minnesota scored two late third period goals to send the contest to overtime. After five minutes of extra hockey could not settle the score, both teams moved to the shootout phase where the Bolts captured the two points scoring the only goal to defeat the Wild 5-4 at Amalie Arena. The win moved Tampa Bay to 10-4-3 and that adds up to 23 points. The shootout loss put Minnesota at 11-6-1 and that equates to an identical 23 points.

The Lightning struck first just 66 seconds into the fray. On the power play, F Anthony Cirelli (5) tipped in a shot by D Victor Hedman (14) with the other helper going to F Ondrej Palat (7) and that gave the Bolts an early 1-0 advantage.

Tampa Bay stretched their lead at 11:14 of the first period. F Pat Maroon (4) slid a backhander past G Kaapo Kahkonen (24 saves on 28 shots) with the assists going to F Corey Perry (2) and D Mikhail Sergachev (6) putting the Lightning up 2-0.

Minnesota dented the scoreboard at 14:40 of the opening period. F Marcus Foligno (7) redirected a shot past G Brian Elliott (32 saves on 36 shots) and that cut the Lightning advantage to 2-1.

The Wild tied the score at 3:56 of the middle period. F Brandon Duhaime (3) wristed the rubber disk over the goal line leveling the score at 2 all.

The Bolts went back on top at 17:07 of the second period. Cirelli (6) lit the lamp for the second time with a backhander.  D Cal Foote (1) and F Alex Killorn (10) provided the assists to make it a 3-2 Tampa Bay lead.

The Lighting increased their advantage at 9:19 of the final period. F Alex Barre-Boulet (2) wristed the biscuit into the basket with the help of F Steven Stamkos (10) and D Ryan McDonagh (5) giving the Bolts what appeared to be an insurmountable lead at 4-2.

That was not the case as the Wild scored twice late in the third period and both times with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker. The first came at 17:12 when F Kevin Fiala (3) lit the lamp to make it 4-3. The second occurred with just 39 seconds left in regulation when F Joel Eriksson (8) tied the contest that led to bonus hockey.

After a scoreless five-minute overtime, Stamkos notched a shootout goal. That would be the only tally as both goalies came up big and that gave Tampa Bay the victory.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS 0  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4

Tampa Bay started fast and never looked back as the Bolts beat Philadelphia 4-0 at Amalie Arena. The win propelled the Lightning to 11-4-3 and that computes to 25 points. The loss put the Flyers at 8-6-3 and that adds up to 19 points.

The Bolts, for the second straight game, got on the scoreboard quickly at 2:28 of the first period. D Zach Bogosian (1) took a perfect cross ice pass from Sergachev (7) and deposited the puck behind G Carter Hart (31 saves on 35 shots) for his first goal of the 2021 season. The other assist went to Maroon (1) and that gave Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead.

The Lightning extended their lead at 6:43 of the middle period. Stamkos (10) deposited a rebound into the back of the net with helpers from Bogosian (3) and McDonagh (6) to increase the Bolts margin to 2-zip.

Tampa Bay dented the scoreboard again at 16:17 of the second period. With the Lightning having the extra attacked due to a delayed penalty, Perry (1) skated out of corner unmolested and went top shelf on the glove side for his first marker of the campaign. The assists went to Stamkos (11) and Sergchev (8) to extend the Bolts lead to 3-nil.

The Lightning scored again at 7:26 of the final period. Barre-Boulet (3) got into the act depositing the puck top shelf after getting a face off feed from Stamkos (12) to make it 4-0 and that would be the final arithmetic.

The real story was Vasilevskiy who saved all 34 shot he faced.  It was #88 first shutout of the season.

Had a chance to throw out a question to HC Jon Cooper along with Perry and Stamkos.

LH : In the last two games, you gave up third period leads.  It looked like tonight there was a conscious effort to protect it in the third period.  Was that the case?

JC : Yeah, there was no doubt about that.  We are so used to closing games out.  A three-goal lead, you’re hoping that’s a decent lead and you’re trying to get to four, of course, but now you’re just trying to protect your goaltender.  Your hoping to do that and, I think, the guys were trying to protect that lead and keep the shutout.

LH : On your goal, it was during a delayed penalty where the Lightning could get  extra attacker.  When you skated out of the corner with the puck, we you surprised no one challenged you?

CP : I was surprised that we didn’t score.  I was surprised I got the puck back in the corner.  Then, I made a play to get off a shot.  I just put it on goal and it found a way through a bunch of sticks.

LH : Last week in Philly, you had to play catch up for almost 57 minutes.  How nice was it to play with the lead tonight? 

SS : Yeah, it just makes it easier for sure.  That’s something that we, certainly have become accustomed to playing with the lead. Tonight, was one of those where it was nice to hold on to it in the third. We played the right way. The last couple of games we had the lead and given it up. This was one of those games that it was probably meant to be because we played the right was and got the result we wanted.

SEATTLE KRAKEN 0  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3

A unique night for hockey at Amalie Arena. First, the Bolts honored Hall of Fame broadcaster Rick Peckham by labeling all the press box broadcast areas in his name. A reward that was justly deserved for his 24 seasons as the play-by-play voice of the Bolts.

Second, the first ever tilt with Seattle marked the return of former Tampa Bay F Yanni Gourde who was selected in the expansion raft by the Kraken. The native of Saint-Narcisse, Quebec played a vital role in the Lightning capturing back-to-back Stanley Cups and received a warm and loud ovation from the grateful Bolts fans in attendance.

For the third consecutive contest, Tampa Bay posted an early goal. This one occurred at 2:52 of the first period when F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (1) blasted a shot from the dot to the right of G Phillipp Grubauer (23 saves on 26 shots) that was top shelf and ripped into the back of the net. The assists went to Perry (3) and Hedman (15) giving the Lightning a 1-0 lead.

The Lightning increased their lead just 31 seconds into the middle period. F Ross Colton (2) wristed a loose puck in the slot right in front of the crease across the goal line. The helpers went to F Boris Katchouk (3) and D Jan Rutta (4) to put the Bolts up 2-0.

Tampa Bay scored again at 11:32 of the final period. After a Kraken turnover, Stamkos (11) converted a perfect pass from Palat (8) putting the biscuit in the basket with a one-timer slap shot to increase the Lightning advantage to 3-0.

The story, once again, was #88.  Vasilevskiy stopped all 17 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.

Talked with Cooper, as usual, and Vasilevskiy as well as Colton in the postgame interviews.  Their responses are below.

LH : In your last three games, 16 of your 18 position players have at least one point.  You can’t get much balanced than that, can you?

JC : No. I didn’t know that.  That what happens when you winning.  We’re trying to keep people on the outside to help the goalies.  Everyone is chipping in especially with the guys we have out.  It much needed and it’s all a team effort

LH : In the last three games, the team has scored an early goal.  Does that help you confidence?

AV : Yeah, you want to play with the lead.  You definitely want to score early and it gives me a bost to be ahead.

LH : Third game in a row that you played with the due to early goals.  How important is that?

RC : Yeah, it’s huge.  Obviously, to play with the lead is important.  Sometimes, I think we sit back too much when you have the lead but, tonight, I think we did a great job of sticking to it.  You don’t want to sit back.  It gives us a little bit more confidence to play our game.  Get pucks deep and work their defensemen.  WE knew they had a young team back there so we wanted to forecheck and we wanted to do that early in the game.  Get one, obviously, helped too.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 2  MINNESOTA WILD 4

Minnesota scored a late third period goal and then tacked on an empty net marker to beat Tampa Bay 4-2 at Xcel Energy Center.  The victory advanced the Wild to 14-6-1 and that equates to 29 points.  The loss dropped the Lightning to 12-5-3 and that adds up to 27 points.

Minnesota got on the board first at 11:03 of the opening period.  Wild F Nick Bjugstad (3) lit the lamp to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

The Bolts tied the score 48 seconds later.  Perry (2) beat G Cam Talbot (28 saves on 30 shots) with the assists coming from Bellemare (3) and Sergachev (9) making the score 1 all.

The Wild jumped back in front at 16:28 of the first period.  F Victor Rask (3) maneuvered the puck past Vasilevskiy (33 saves on 36 shots) to put Minnesota up 2-1.

Tampa Bay tied the score at 9:24 of the middle period.  Killorn (8) put the biscuit in the basket with the helper going to Stamkos (13) to knot the score at 2 apiece.

Minnesota took the lead for good at 9:15 of the final period.  F Ryan Hartman (12) slid the rubber disk over the goal line to give the Wild at 3-2 advantage.

The Twin Cities Gang push an insurance marker across with 17 seconds left in regulation.  Foligno (8) carded the empty netter to make the final count 4-2 in favor of the Wild to give the home team a hard earned two points.