NHL Game Night: 10-6-17 Panthers at Lightning

Still...

FLA-3
TB-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. He was clearly the difference in the game, allowing the Lightning to overcome an anemic opening 40 minutes while Roberto Luongo surrendered a couple of soft goals at the other end of the rink.

First Period
6:33 TB Palat (1), (Point, Hedman)

Second Period
0:25 TB Point (1), (unassisted)
12:21 FLA Brickley (1), (Petrovic)
17:47 FLA Pysyk (1), (Vrbata, Trocheck)

Third Period
0:59 TB Namestnikov (1), (Stamkos, Killorn)(PP)
6:38 TB Kucherov (1), (unassisted)
14:30 FLA Huberdeau (1), (Dadonov, Yandle)
19:46 TB Palat (2), (Point)(EN)

Brayden Point, Anton Stralman, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

Really a very mixed bag on the night, with slightly more good than bad. The team looked flat and got outpossessed by a wide margin in the first 40 minutes of the game, and it took some great play by Vasilevskiy and some soft play by Luongo to keep the Lightning from getting run out of their own barn. I think it starts from the backline where I simply didn't like the pairings with Jake Dotchin being scratched. If Jake's still paying his penance to Coach Cooper, I hope it's paid in full soon, because playing Girardi top pair isn't sustainable and playing Sustr at all isn't either. Sustr, in particular, did not cloak himself in glory in this game.

Through the first two frames, I thought only the Palat/Point/Gourde line showed up to the rink, but they were joined by the top line of Namestnikov/Stamkos/Kucherov that started to come on in the Third Period. I'm really heartened to see Brayden Point have a good opening game. With Tyler Johnson off the scoring lines and nearly invisible, the Lightning's ace up their sleeve is Point. I suspect he can have a breakout season and help give the Lightning the two balanced lines they need.

So, all in all, I think the pieces I think the Lightning need to really have a strong season (Vasilevskiy, Point, and to a lesser extent the returning Stamkos) had a good opening night with the exception of the exiled Dotchin. Hopefully the Lightning can get him back and playing as well as he did at the end of last season, and that'll push Girardi down to third pair with Coburn and Sustr to the press box, which I think will soothe a lot of defensive ills.

Yanni Gourde was +1 with 2 hits in 13:36.

Gabriel Dumont was 67% on 6 draws in 9:01.

Mikhail Sergachev was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 4 shots in 16:03. I like that he's being mentored on a pair with Stralman and tonight was mostly what I'm hoping to see from him as a rookie. The Lightning need quality minutes more than hefty offensive production, and while I hope that ultimately Sergachev lands closer to 18 minutes on a game to game basis, this was a good start to his Lightning career.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.