Lightning ends road trip with convincing win over Kraken
Considering how many dangerous weapons the Lightning have on the power play, the drought they’ve had lately is hard to explain.
Tampa Bay has had its share of bumps on its longest road trip of the season — slow starts, too many penalties and quiet nights from its top scorers. But heading into the second period Wednesday night in Seattle against the expansion Kraken, the Lightning’s 0-for-16 drop on the power play on the trip was stark.
In a game that included 11 penalties, special teams played a key role and the Lightning came out of their power-play drought thanks to two power-play goals from defenseman Victor Hedman in a 4-1 win at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Lightning ended their six-game road trip, which included a season-high three-game losing streak in Western Canada with consecutive wins, going 3-3-0.
“The last two games, especially tonight, after the first period where we got away with penalties there, I thought we had, for the most part, good possession of the game,” Lightning captain Steven said. Stamkos.
Stamkos, playing his 900th NHL game, recorded three main assists, setting up Hedman’s two power-play scores.
The Lightning (39-15-6) still committed five penalties, including two in the first 2½ minutes of the game that led Seattle 1-0 on former Lightning forward Yanni Gourde’s goal during an advantage digital 5 against 3.
After Stamkos fed Nikita Kucherov on a 2-on-1 run for an equalizer in the first – Kucherov’s first goal in his last eight games – Hedman fired a 95mph slap shot from inside the blue line to the back of the net. The shot was helped by Corey Perry’s screen that took Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer’s line of sight 8:48 into the second period.
“When you go through a little cold spell (on the power play), you feel like things are never going to be right,” Stamkos said. “And even tonight we had a few power play goals, we probably could have had more. (Brayden Point) had good chances. Kuch, some good looks.
“So the chances are there. It’s about sticking to it. And tonight we needed special teams to help us win.
The Lightning got a huge goal from Anthony Cirelli 23 seconds into the third period, a chance created by Point charging at the net.
Point separated two Seattle defensemen chasing a loose puck in the offensive zone. His backhand shot was blocked by Grubauer, but he put the goalkeeper out of position. Cirelli’s backhand shot went through several Kraken players in the crease and through Grubauer who pulled back into position.
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Stamkos again found Hedman in the third, this time in the high slot, giving the Lightning a three-goal lead with 5:34 left in the game. Hedman finished the road trip with six goals in six games, giving him 17 goals this season and tying him with Nashville’s Roman Josi for second among all defensemen.
“Teams obviously can’t cover all of us (on the power play) when we’re on the ice,” Stamkos said. “And when (Hedman) starts bombing from above, that’s when things open up. Even if he shoots and it doesn’t go in…the rebounds, the recoveries, it’s “That’s where the seam passes come in. Right now, I’m just trying to get the pucks in the hands of the hot guy. He’s probably been our top scorer lately.
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