Tampa Bay Lightning Fight Back To Defeat Montreal Canadiens In Overtime
The Tampa Bay Lightning had to fight until the very end, but ultimately, they would come back to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime.
The Tampa Bay Lightning faced a tough challenge tonight at the Amalie Arena. After having four days off during the Christmas break, the Lightning got back to business by kicking off yet another back-to-back series by taking on the Atlantic-Division leading Montreal Canadiens.
Before the Lightning took the ice tonight to take on the Canadiens, the team received some rather good news. Lightning leading goal-scorer Nikita Kucherov and his linemate Ondrej Palat would both make their returns to the ice. Unfortunately, the Bolts would lose another play as well.
Just before puck drop, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula had been suspended one game for Disciplinary Reasons. Come to find out, Filppula was suspended for missing the team meeting.
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Given the situation the Lightning find themselves in at the moment and the caliber of team the Bolts were about to face, they would’ve given Filppula a mulligan on this one. Unfortunately, the rules apply to everyone, no matter how productive you are at the moment.
Much like the Lightning’s final game before the Christmas break, the Lightning found themselves chasing their tails rather quickly in the first period. At just 3:24 in the first period, the Montreal Canadiens would open up the scoring with a goal from Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov.
Thankfully, the Tampa Bay Lightning was not willing to simply go quietly. Just after the halfway point in the first period, the Lightning would fire back with a goal of their own. The beautiful goal would come courtesy of the newly-reunited Triplets line.
Tyler Johnson would pick up his 10th goal of the season while his linemates Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat would pick up their 18th and 10th assist (respectively) of the season. Lightning fans hoped this would be the spark the team needed to get things moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, an ill-timed penalty would essentially derail this train of thought before it ever had a chance to leave the station.
At 13:23 in the first period, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Holding Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher. Just eight seconds into the penalty, Habs defenseman Shea Weber would easily put the puck past Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net to reclaim the lead for the Montreal Canadiens.
When the buzzer would sound to end the first period of play, the Bolts would trail the Canadiens 2-1. While this is definitely not a position a team hopes to find themselves in, this is not the worst outcome the Bolts could’ve experienced. There was plenty of hockey left to play, and more than enough time to retake control of the game.
Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what would happen. Much like the first period of play, it was just 3:07 before the Canadiens would up the ante once again. Canadiens forward Chris Terry would beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on the glove side and send the puck flying into the back of the net to increase the Habs lead over the Bolts to two.
The Tampa Bay Lightning would pick up some ground offensively in the second period, but none of the opportunities they created for themselves would result in a goal for the Bolts. Carey Price seemingly had the number of the Lightning for most of the night. At the same time, the Lightning had 20 minutes of play remaining to make a change and finally solve the Price puzzle.
The offensive trend started in the second period would continue into the third period, with the Bolts outshooting the Canadiens 4-1 through the halfway point in the period. Unfortunately, the Lightning’s progression would slam head-first into the boards…literally. We’ll get back to this in a moment.
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It would take just past the halfway point in the third period until either team would be able to put the puck in the back of the net. Thankfully, this time it was the Tampa Bay Lightning lighting the lamps (and tesla coils.)
Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman would race in front of the Canadiens net, Kucherov the one holding the puck. Just as the duo finds themselves in position, Kucherov passes off the puck to Hedman who wastes no time in firing off the shot. He shoots, he scores!! Victor Hedman would make this a one-goal game once again.
Now, here comes the point where they Lightning’s offense gets both stuffed and sparked all at the same time.
At 13:26 in the third, Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber would take a run at Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who was playing the puck along the boards. As Namestnikov turned to play the puck, Weber came barreling into him like a freight train, slamming him head first into the boards.
After being in quite a bit of obvious pain, Namestnikov would make his way off the ice under his own power. Unfortunately, it would be one of those scenarios where he doesn’t pass go and doesn’t collect two-hundred dollars. It was straight down the tunnel and back to the locker room for Vladislav Namestnikov.
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It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize Namestnikov was done for the night. The only question remaining was how long Vladdy would be forced to miss thanks to the largely unnecessary hit?
While no team ever wants to lose a player like Vladislav Namestnikov, who just recently returned to the ice after missing the game against the Washington Capitals before the Christmas break with an illness, but this seemed to serve as the spark the Lightning needed to get back into this game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were three minutes and thirty seconds away from dropping yet another game and kicking off their back-to-back series on a rather sour note. Thankfully, the newly-recharged Lightning offense was having absolutely none of this.
At 15:19 in the third, Shea Weber would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Tripping Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. Granted, he probably should’ve still been in the penalty box for his unnecessary hit on Namestnikov, but that’s neither here nor there.
This opened the door for the Triplets to pick up their second combined goal of the night with a goal from the newly-returned Ondrej Palat. This served as Palat’s fifth goal of the season with the assists going to Victor Hedman and Brayden Point.
When the buzzer sounded to end the third period, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens would be headed to a three-on-three sudden death overtime. In other words, no matter what happens from this point forth, the Lightning would walk away from this contest with at least one point. Thankfully, the Bolts wanted more.
Just 1:36 in the overtime period, Tyler Johnson would bring it home for the Bolts with his 11th goal of the season. Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison picked up his 5th assist of the year along with Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, who picked up his 1st assist of the year.
You know it had to be a special night when Vasy picked up a point. It’s not every day the netminder makes his way to the scoresheet.
Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, things don’t exactly look bright for the young netminder tonight. Vasy allowed three goals on just 22 shots. Vasilevskiy’s 19 saves gave him a Save Percentage of .864. This is a far cry from the .918 Save Percentage Vasy had through his first 16 games this season.
Right now, Vasilevskiy has a real chance to shine. With Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop being sidelined 3-4 weeks with a Lower-Body Injury, Vasilevskiy will be carrying the brunt of the load, being backed up by goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.
There is still a lot of work on behalf of the Tampa Bay Lightning before they will be able to get to where they need to be and in a good position heading towards the postseason. At the same time, tonight’s victory over the Canadiens is definitely a good first step in the journey.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, there won’t be much time for celebrating here in the Bolts Nation tonight. Tomorrow evening, the Lightning will be at it again as they head once more into the Amalie Arena to finish off their back-to-back series with a battle against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Once again, the action is set to kick off at the Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. The Lightning have the opportunity to create a new win streak for themselves tomorrow night here in Tampa. If the Bolts can learn from tonight’s game and continue to build on it, the Bolts will be in a very good position to do just that.
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