In the four games the Tampa Bay Lightning have already played this season, it seems the bane of their existence has been scoring in the first period. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any brighter for the Lightning tonight in Ottawa.
Surprisingly enough the Lightning absolutely dominated the Senators in shots on goal in the first period (14-4 Bolts,) but Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was able to keep the puck out of the back of the net and keep the Sens in the game through the first 20 minutes of play.
While the Lightning weren’t able to sink the puck in the first period, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. Towards the end of the first period, Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov raced through the offensive zone towards the net with the puck.
Once Namestnikov found himself behind the net, he passed the puck back to the stick of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos had a tremendous scoring chance, including a rebound, but Anderson was somehow able to keep the puck out of the net.
The Bolts found themselves in a very compromising position towards the end of the first period. As Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Boyle made his way around the Senators’ net, Anderson’s stick would come up and absolutely nail Boyle in the face.
Slowly, he would make his way back to the Lightning bench, but after speaking with Tampa Bay Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan, Boyle would make his way back to the Lightning locker room for the remainder of the first period. Lightning fans hoped Boyle would make it back for the second period.
Thankfully for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brian Boyle would rejoin the Bolts on the ice for the second period of play. Surely, he’s got the headache of a lifetime, but hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world. It would take something pretty serious to keep them off the ice.
The Lightning may not have been able to capitalize on their many opportunities in the first period of play, but the second period opened up a whole new world for the Bolts; especially in terms of the Power Play. Needless to say, the second period was all about the Tampa Bay Lightning.
At 2:25 in the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning would get their first crack at the Power Play as Senators defenseman Cody Ceci was sent to the sin bin for High Sticking Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. Just 11 seconds later, Vladislav Namestnikov would pick up his first goal of the season.
It was only a matter of time before the Tampa Bay Lightning would head back to the Power Play. At 5:13 in the period, Senators forward Mike Hoffman would be sent to the box for two minutes for Hooking against Anton Stralman.
The Lightning would respond once again, this time with a goal from Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Assists on the Stamkos goal would be accredited to Lightning forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov.
Unfortunately, a momentary lapse of judgment on the part of the Lightning would allow the Senators to turn things back into a one-goal game. Vasilevskiy made the initial stop on the play; however, Vasy would find the puck in an awkward position; a position in which he could not reach the puck.
Senators forward Chris Neil would take notice of the puck’s odd positioning and use the opportunity to sink the puck in the back of the net for the Sens. The Lightning would need to be much more cautious if they wanted to hold onto the lead.
One of the things that became abundantly clear over the course of the second period is the referees were being rather selective of what they called. Lightning forward Tyler Johnson got slew footed and then hammered by Sens forward Zack Smith along the boards and the refs call nothing.
Around the same time, Lightning forward J.T. Brown gets his stick on Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and he is sent to the box for two minutes for hooking. Thankfully, the Tampa Bay Lightning (and many other teams in the NHL) have become accustomed to this and are able to overcome.
The Tampa Bay Lightning did allow the Senators to make up a lot of room in terms of shots on goal in the first period. After going up 14-4 in the first period, the Senators dominated the second period going 16-8. This led to a two-period total of 22-20 in favor of the Lightning.
The Bolts did, however, remain dominant in the Faceoff Circle. The Lightning led the Senators 62-38 percent through the first two periods of play in the Faceoff Circle. This has proven to be an important part of the Lightning’s success so far this season.
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As the Tampa Bay Lightning took the ice for the third and final period of the game, they had just one job. Hold onto their lead with all their might and shut down the Senators to kick off their lengthy road trip on a good note. Thankfully, the Lightning did a little better than that.
The Bolts would get their third opportunity of the night with the man advantage just 5:13 into the third period as Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki was sent to the box for two minutes for Holding Lightning forward J.T. Brown. For the first time tonight, the Sens were able to shut down the Bolts on the Power Play.
Don’t worry about the Lightning, though. Just under three minutes later, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn would be Anderson and earn his fourth goal of the season. The assists on Killorn’s goal would go to Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula and defenseman Jason Garrison.
Just past the halfway point in the period, the Senators would get their third opportunity on the Power Play as Namestnikov was sent to the sin bin for two minutes for holding Senators captain Erik Karlsson. The good news is, the Lightning’s penalty kill was able to shut down the Sens and keep this a two-goal game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to have the game well in hand; however, the Bolts weren’t done with the Sens just yet. Sometimes the smallest of circumstances can create the most beautiful plays.
Filppula finds himself with a clear path between him and Anderson. As Flipper crosses in front of the net, he fakes a shot, distracting Craig Anderson. A split second later, Filppula goes top shelf and puts the puck in the back of the net.
When the final buzzer sounded, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning who would emerge victoriously with a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators to kick off their lengthy six-game road trip through Canada and the New York metropolitan area.
Despite not scoring in the first period of play, the Lightning played a solid 60 minutes of hockey. The Bolts were aggressive with the puck and solid defensively.
Once again, the Power Play proved to be an important part of the Lightning’s success. Two of the Lightning’s four goals can be attributed to the Lightning Power Play. The Lightning have some tough teams ahead on the schedule. If they want to continue to bring home the two points, they’ll need to play just like they did tonight.
Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have successfully concluded their business in Ottawa, they are headed to the Air Canada Centre where they will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
While this may seem like an easy task for the Lightning, never underestimate a team when they are down. At some point, these kinds of teams come out swinging and have the ability to take down even the best teams in the National Hockey League. If the Lightning play like they did tonight, they should find themselves in a good place on Tuesday.