Connect with us

Game Recaps

Tampa Bay cap off comeback only done twice before in franchise history





by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 14, 2021

DETROIT – The Tampa Bay Lightning’s first foray onto the road played out like one of those old barnstorming games where a team storms into town, puts on one entertaining event and quickly moves on to the next town.

The Lightning did just that, escaping Motown with the most unusual of victories they might have ever pulled off.

And if the mantra in the early stages of the season, as head coach Jon Cooper has uttered many times during his tenure, is to just find a way to munch points, then the Lightning put on quite the Pac-Man impersonation despite looking as if Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Bertuzzi were going to smother the defending champions before a victory was munched.

But the Lightning reached a power pellet just before being devoured, turned the chase toward the ghosts and cleared things up to move on to the next one.

{mprestriction ids=”1,2″}

Coming off a disappointing effort in the season opening game on Tuesday, the Lightning were looking for something a little more along their normal style of game facing the Red Wings in their season opener at Little Caesar’s Arena.

Things, uh, didn’t exactly go according to plan.

The compete level, which was talked about the most after the loss to Pittsburgh, raised up to acceptable levels. The skating and speed, a trademark of the team, also picked up the pace. But with a roster featuring a handful of new places, there are still many issues to work through.

There was one element that did show up in abundance, however, and that was the will to win and the unwavering determining to never give up.

On three occasions against Detroit, Tampa Bay trailed by three goals. They were down 3-0, 4-1 and 6-3. But they refused to quit, even with that final deficit staring them in the visor with under seven minutes remaining in the game.

“Listen, it’s game two, there were a lot of things that we’re going to have to work on,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “But the start was certainly better, and the effort was certainly better. We probably didn’t deserve to be down three goals multiple times in this game, it’s just the way that that game went. It was a weird one, but it’s early and you can build off wins like this where they’re emotional and you come back and you start to build on something coming off of a short summer.”

Tampa Bay overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit to win a game for the third time in franchise history. The two other instances were on Dec. 16, 1992, in San Jose and Dec. 23, 2006, against the New York Rangers

The Lightning did fall behind in the opening period as Dylan Larkin found a loose puck in the blue paint that Andrei Vasilevskiy tried to snare down with his glove, but was unable to corral it and it squeezed through him. This coming in a period in which the Lightning controlled 58-percent of the shot attempts, 60-percent of the scoring chances and 71-percent of the high danger scoring chances. It was a vast difference from that the Lightning experienced in the opening game.

It was a solid start, statistically for Tampa Bay. They were able to dictate a lot of the play, established a cycle game – something that was non existent on Tuesday – and had the Red Wings pinned in several shifts in the period.

But then, things got, well, weird. Like, things that you don’t see every day, happened. And it took the game in a completely different direction.

It involved a four-goal game from an opponent. A team being handed a match penalty for a blatant sucker punch but ending up with a power play opportunity from it and scoring. But then the team that should have been on a five-minute power play, still converting twice.

Up and down, back and forth, sideways and down. It was a barnstorming tour for the final 40-plus minutes that saw four different players with at least four points and three different players with multiple goals. And then there was that three different three-goal deficits the Lightning faced.

“That was a crazy game, no doubt,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.

Tyler Bertuzzi scored 16 seconds into the second period, inside-outing Mikhail Sergachev and beat Vasilevskiy with a quick shot. Bertuzzi scored again six seconds after a power play chace – which was gifted to Detroit on a delay of game call when the puck was knocked out of play by Andrej Sustr when he was clearly in the neutral zone at the time – to make it a 3-0 game.

Ondrej Palat answered that 16 seconds later, but Bertuzzi finished off his hat trick performance during the controversial power play chance for Detroit midway through the period.

The 4-on-3 power play opportunity came at the 11:40 mark. After Mathieu Joseph rode Larkin in the boards, the Detroit captain was not pleased with the hit and it’s understandable after Larkin’s season ended last year because of a neck injury. After falling to the ice, Larkin jumped up immediately, dropped his stick and delivered a blind-side sucker puck to the jaw of Joseph that sent Joseph immediate to the ice.

A melee, understandably, broke out. After several minutes, of discussion, Larkin was handed a match penalty for intent to injure, which carries an ejection from the game and triggers an automatic suspension pending a hearing. But that proved to be the only penalty called on Detroit while Jan Rutta and Joseph were both issues roughing calls. The later was a bit difficult to fathom as Joseph pretty much laid prone on the ice after the punch and there was no delayed call for his hit on Larkin.

The Red Wings ended up with the man advantage out of it.

“Say what you want about the Joseph hit, there was no penalty called,” Cooper said. “And then the melee starts and there’s the attempt to injure. For us to come out of that (down) four-on-three was mind boggling to me. So I just don’t know how it got rewarded, but it did.”

It proved to be one of those nights where things were the game was conspiring against the team with things out of their control. But this is a team that embraced the suck and danced in the rain in the 2020 playoffs and some of that attitude still resonates through the lineup.

Because Stamkos would strike twice with a pair of power play goals during the remaining time left on Larkins’ major to make it a 4-3 game.

But Detroit scored twice more – Bertuzzi getting his fourth of the game just after stepping out of the penalty box at 4:35 and Vlad Namestnikov potting a rebound at 7:10 – to regain a three goal lead on what should have ended any hope for the visiting team.

When Ross Colton scored at 13:43, it provided some hope.

“Ross’s goal was was huge, gave us some life,” Stamkos said. “Down two goals, it gives you an opportunity again pull the goalie.”

It was a power play goal from Nikita Kucherov with 3:35 left while in a 6-on-4 situation that brought things closer. And it was another extra attacker goal by Alex Killorn that made it a 6-6 game, a play set up by an aggressive forecheck by Anthony Cirelli that disrupted a pass behind the net that landed right on the stick of Victor Hedman who fed Killorn in front with 2:19 left.

“I was trying to cut off whatever they were going to do,” Hedman said. “I don’t even know a strong side or weak side, I felt like we had the weak side covered so I just used my speed and was able to grab it off the wall and find Killer.”

In overtime, Tampa Bay won the opening faceoff and never lost possession of the puck and won the game at 2:43 as Hedman – picking up his fourth assist of the game – created speed down the left wing side and find Palat who gained inside position on Pius Suter for his third career overtime winner.

“There’s not a lot of teams in this league that can’t come back being down three goals the last six minutes or whatever,” Hedman said. “Says a lot about the character in that room.”

The victory helped Tampa Bay avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 2009-10, and based on the numbers from the game, was probably a just result.

“To me, the right team won the game,” Cooper said. “I thought there was a lot of things we couldn’t control in that game tonight. We could control some of our play. There’s some things that we need to work on. In the end, we gave ourselves a chance to win. There’s probably long odds for us to win that game halfway through the third, but I think the gamesmanship and the work our team put in for 50 (minutes) paid off in the last 10. So you’ve got to give the guys a ton of credit.

“It’s two points for us and let’s move on.”

Postgame notes: D Zach Bogosian will miss 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury suffered in Tuesday’s opener. … D Andrej Sustr was called up from Syracuse and played 8:06 in his first NHL game since Nov. 25, 2018, while with the Anaheim Ducks. … C Steven Stamkos registered his 80th career multi-goal game and first since Feb. 9, against Nashville. … G Andrei Vasilevskiy improved to 13-0 all-time against the Red Wings despite giving up six goals. … Stamkos recorded his 79th career NHL game with three or more points. … Hedman’s four assists tie the franchise record for most by a defenseman, shared by Doug Crossman, Pavel Kubina, Adrian Aucoin, Joe Reekie and Hedman. … Kucherov notched his 22nd career game with three or more assists and first since Nov. 29, 2019 at Washington.

My three stars:

1. Lightning D Victor Hedman – Franchise record tying four assists by a defenseman, eight shot attempts

2. Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov – Goal, three assists, eight shots on goal, 11 shot attempts

3. Red Wings LW Tyler Bertuzzi – Four goals, plus-3


Copyright © 2021 National Hockey Now and Erik Erlendsson. Tampa Bay Hockey Now is an independently owned and operated site and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization or the National Hockey League.