Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Playoff Game Day and Night: 8-11-20 Blue Jackets v Lightning

Tampa Bay's finest six hours and thirteen minutes.

CBJ-2
TB-3 (5OT)

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 63 shots for the victory. The short side goal he allowed late in the Second Period ultimately invited five overtime madness, but when you stop 63 shots in a night, you don't get the goat horns even with a softie thrown in the mix.

First Period
2:39 CBJ DuBois (4), (Texier, Jones)(PP)
6:27 TB Point (2), (Kucherov, Hedman)

Second Period
19:12 CBJ Bjorkstrand (1), (DuBois, Kukan)

Third Period
0:23 TB Gourde (1), (McDonagh, Coleman)

First Overtime
NO SCORING

Second Overtime
NO SCORING

Third Overtime
NO SCORING

Fourth Overtime
NO SCORING

Fifth Overtime
10:27 TB Point (3), (Kucherov, Sergachev)

Brayden Point was the game's second star.

Today's game started at 3:09 Eastern Daylight Time and ended at 9:22 Eastern Daylight Time, and in the time in between the Tampa Bay Lightning answered damned near every question this group has ever faced about it's toughness, resiliency, and commitment level. Victor Hedman came into this contest with a bum ankle and question marks all around. He ended up playing 57:38 of ice time including an amazing play in the fifth OT to legally track down a Blue Jacket on a breakaway just shifts before the winning goal. . There were questions about whether the Lightning could get hit in the mouth and get off the canvas. They answered allowing an opening goal under three minutes into the game and another goal late in the Second Period with tying goals within four minutes of play in both cases. And they played one of the longest games in NHL history and tilted the ice on a team that beat them senseless in last year's playoffs to such a degree that by the end of the game I believe the fancy stats said the Lightning expected goals was eight. Eight.

The way the Lightning played this game embodied a total team commitment that was championship level. Period, full stop. Shift after shift, play after play they made the smart hockey play, the hustled positionally to support each other, and they sacrificed physically to make plays to win. I'm hard-pressed to think of many times I've been prouder of a Lightning team. What was Lightning hockey when it was a gleam in Phil Esposito's eye some 29-30 years ago? Something like that, I imagine.

Hope the bubble hotel has plenty of ice to fill up bath tubs tonight. I know two teams who should be proud of their effort and will need them.

Mitchell Stephens had 6 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 24:02. He was also 40% on 15 draws. Welcome to playoff hockey, young man. Didn't they tell you the games would last 150+ minutes?

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Postseason Round Robin Game Night: 8-8-20 Flyers v Lightning

Strange night leaves Lightning in limbo on precipice of the knockout rounds.

PHI-4
TB-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss. You had a deflection goal, and 2-on-1, and a cross ice one-timer for the three goals. Nothing he could've done with them beyond the fact that it'd have been nice for him to get a situational save on that first goal. Hard to blame him for it, but that first goal in any postseason contest changes the complexion of the game so much.

First Period
7:40 PHI Aube-Kubel (1), (Gostisbehere, Grant)
14:00 PHI Aube-Kubel (2), (Couturier, Farabee)

Second Period
5:21 TB Johnson (2), (Killorn, Point)(PP)
14:22 PHI Farabee (1), (Gostisbehere, Couturier)

Third Period
18:40 PHI Pitlick (1), (Laughton)

Strange night. Scary night given the injury to Hedman and the uncertainty surrounding it. The Lightning obviously had a terrible First Period getting outscored 2-0, outshot 20-6, and losing their Norris Trophy caliber defenseman to an apparent ankle injury. Once they regrouped out of the First Intermission, though, I thought they played pretty well, ultimately outshooting Philly 18-10 in the last 40 minutes and probably deserving more than they got for their efforts. So, effort-wise, were it not for the specter of the Hedman injury, I wouldn't be too down on the team for the way they played tonight. In a way, this balanced out the Washington game where I thought they got away with a bit of larceny with how bad they looked the last 30 or so minutes of that contest. A lot of Lightning fans are probably ready to go jump off the Skyway tonight, but I would caution to calm down, reflect on the fact the team did play better than the score indicates, and maybe we can sneak a witch doctor into the bubble to make Hedman's ankle ok. Seriously, even within that terrible First Period, they could've easily had three goals between Kucherov hitting a post and Kucherov and Killorn both getting stoned on breakaways.

So, the Lightning are looking at Toronto or Columbus in the first round now. And, they may be facing it down without their two franchise cornerstones in Hedman and Stamkos. This is going to be strange. Do I have a preference? First, tell me how long Hedman's going to be down for the count. Second, tell me the same for Zach Werenski for Columbus. Because, at the end of the day, no team weathers losing a true #1 caliber defenseman all that well. And that's why Lightning fans have to be feeling pretty down tonight watching Hedman's frustrated reaction as he went off to the locker room. We hope for some sort of sprain and not a break and that Hedman can get back, if not for Game One, at least at some point in the series when he can still influence the outcome.

Other observations from the Round Robin: I like the depth of the team at forward. I think the bottom line guys have played pretty well, especially the grinders. Point didn't have his best night tonight, but the first two games looked like the best player on the ice. Johnson, Gourde, and even Killorn have had good moments. If they can get Stamkos back at some point they'll be that much more formidable and I've liked their physicality and forechecking. They look so much more like a legit playoff-style team this year, eyeball test.

Defense is a different matter, especially with Hedman potentially out. McDonagh's been his usual excellent self and Cernak's been a horse at both ends of the rink. Beyond those three it gets progressively more dicey. Sergachev will do 7,8,9 pretty decent things and then make one play that makes you wince and reach for the Mylanta. Bogosian, in the two games he played, got himself in decent position more often than not and the effort level is there, but he just can't quite seem to put a bow on certain plays. And Rutta is Rutta, which leaves us with the case of Kevin Shattenkirk who has been the hottest of hot trash in the Round Robin, including a bad step up that led to Philly's second goal tonight. If you ask me who needs to step up on the Lightning blueline if Hedman's injury is significant, yes lefties like McDonagh and Sergachev obviously eat those minutes, but you can't construct two good pairs with only three guys. Shattenkirk's got to step up and play better until (knock on wood) Hedman comes back, and he's just been piss poor with his positioning and decision-making thus far.

Vasilevskiy? Oddly enough tonight was probably his steadiest game, despite it being his worst stat line. He didn't have any howlers like in the first two games. He's been another odd case, because positionally and tracking the puck I think he's looked pretty good, and yet he's had those leaky goals against Washington and Boston. He's another guy, if Hedman's out, that obviously needs to step up. A hot goaltender is always the great equalizer in this sport.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:31 and was 22% on 9 draws. Faceoffs aside, I thought he played really well tonight. Maybe his best game of the Round Robin. He doesn't have that plus speed, but he manages to get in on the forecheck and the chances seem to find him. Would like to see him work on his shot a little more to turn some of those chances into production and help himself stick in the bigs for good. He's been a pleasant surprise in the restart.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Postseason Round Robin Game Day: 8-5-20 Lightning v Bruins

Lightning move closer to a top seed.

TB-3
BOS-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals on 27 shots for the win. His second goal allowed was another leaky one. He's moving well and seems to be tracking the puck well, but he's had some trouble squeezing off the puck that needs to be fixed up quickly.

First Period
7:33 Point (1), (Kucherov, Palat)
10:32 TB Killorn (1), (Hedman, Johnson)(PP)

Second Period
16:43 BOS McAvoy (1), (Krug, Bergeron)

Third Period
1:47 BOS Wagner (1), (Chara)
18:33 TB Johnson (1), (Gourde, Killorn)

Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point were the game's first and second stars.

In some ways, it was a similar script to the Washington game, except the Lightning really re-found themselves in the last half of the Third Period and ultimately ran Boston out of the game. Both teams appeared to me to have some fatigue issues, but as the better skating team the Lightning seemed to have a lot more speed late in the contest, including Johnson knifing in on the rush for the rebound goal. Boston didn't look like Boston, mind you, but that's probably a good thing given what a meat grinder the Washington game was. I don't think Tampa Bay needed another knock down drag out in under 48 hours.

Mitchell Stephens had a hit and a blocked shot in 11:28 and was 30% on 10 draws. The whole team stunk out loud on faceoffs, winning just 39% on the game. You expect to struggle a bit against Bergeron (72% on 25 draws), but you can't take a bath like that in the playoffs and give up too much cheap possession.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Postseason Round Robin Game Day: 8-3-20 Capitals v Lightning

Definite room for improvement as the Lightning hold on for dear life for the victory.

WSH-2
TB-3 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals on 33 shots before turning away two of three in the penalty shot session for the (postseason) SO win. Weird game for Vasilevskiy. Positionally and in terms of tracking the puck, he was on his game, but his inability to squeeze the puck led to two gift goals that gave the Caps momentum and almost cost the Lightning the game. Vasilevskiy redeemed himself with an excellent performance from the Third Period on, but once we get to the point where the bullets flying are even more real, soft goals can't happen. Cannot.

First Period
12:53 TB Kucherov (1), (Point)

Second Period
7:48 TB Stephens (1), (McDonagh, Maroon)
17:24 WSH Panik (1), (Gudas, Eller)
19:32 WSH Kuznetsov (1), (Orlov, Backstrom)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
WSH- Oshie
TB- Point, Kucherov

The first half of that game the Lightning's depth really seemed to dominate on the forecheck and from a possession standpoint as the grinded Washington to a halt and threatened on more than one occasion to push the advantage to three goals and put it away. But, two soft goals and the Caps forecheck got going and you got a pretty embarrassing display by the Lightning from 17:24 of the Second Period on. You had coverage busts. Turnovers. Odd man rushes. Faceoffs getting lost cleanly in the defensive zone. It wasn't good, and only some luck and Vasilevskiy regaining his wits managed to help the Lightning snatch this one from the jaws of defeat. Not good enough. This wasn't good enough to be sustainable once they hit seven game series, and the really scary part for me is that Washington did that to the Lightning without their number one defenseman (Carlson) in the lineup. Jon Cooper needs to light some butts on fire because what they put out at the end of this game may get them embarrassed against Boston. Playtime is over.

Mitchell Stephens had a greasy goal, 2 shots, and 4 hits in 10:03. He was also 67% on a dozen draws. Big plaudits given to Stephens by the coaching staff throwing him out to win a d-zone draw on a 4-on-3 PK with 9 seconds left in OT. And he scrambled it and then cleared it on his own. Big time.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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