Bonus Hockey goes Bolts Way

By on January 16, 2016
Vatteri Filppula was the number 2 star. (photo Kim Klement / USA SPORTS Today)

Vatteri Filppula was the number 2 star. (photo Kim Klement / USA SPORTS Today)

The Lightning returned home Friday night after a successful road trip to take on the Pittsburg Penguins at Amalie Arena. The Bolts got off to a quick start as they mounted early pressure and it paid off as Vladislav Namestnikov wristed one past Marc-Andre Fleury. Assisting on the play was Steven Stamkos who continued his hot play of late to go along with his new line-mates, Andre Palat and Namestnikov. Since being aligned together on January 8th against Edmonton, they have four goals and seven assists and a plus-minus rating of + 17.

Pittsburgh countered but the back checking of Cedric Paquette thwarted the rush and the Lightning continued to apply shots from all angles. The firing range moved to the other side when an errant pass up center ice caused Nikita Kucherov to draw a penalty. The Lightning killed the penalty as Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped one shot on the Penguins power play but the Pens started to pick up the pace after a slow start.

Pittsburgh tied the game at 1 after winning the draw in the Lightning’s end. Kris Letang took the pass off the draw win from Sidney Crosby and squeezed a snap shot on the short side of Andre Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy gave Letang the room that he needed between his body and the post to get the puck through to the net.

Cedric Pacquette continued his aggressive play and it lead to a hooking call in the Lightning’s offensive zone to give the Penguins their second power play of the game. The Bolts killed off the penalty and then Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust applied the clamps on Steven Stamkos for the Lightning’s first power play of the night. Pittsburgh continued to give up the body and blocked all the shots that the Lightning could muster and the teams went into the locker room tied at 1.

The second period got off to a slow start with turnovers in their own end plaguing the Lightning. Sloppy play lead to a two-on-one with Rust driving the net and the Bolt’s Andre Sustr gave him a little tug for the Pen’s third power play. The Bolts killed the penalty as Andrei Vasilevskiy came up big on a drive by Holmquist. After the kill, Steven Stamkos put on an impressive spin move in the corner and was pulled down by Matt Cullen for a Lightning power play.

A quick hook off the draw by center Eric Fehr on Stamkos gave the Lightning a 5-on-3. The Lightning have been deadly on 5-on-3s this year.  Valtteri Filppula drained a cross the crease pass from Tyler Johnson and the Lightning led 2-1 with 1:37 left on a now 5-on-4 power play. With just over a minute on that power play, Matt Cullen joined Fehr again in the box with a cross-checking penalty for the Lightning’s second 5-on-3 power play of the night. The Penguins denied the Lightning on the 5-on-3 but with 7 seconds to go on the 5-on-4, Victor Hedman sent a bomb from the right point which was redirected by Vladislav Namestnikov passed Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead.

The game got chippy late in the second and Nikita Nesterov got called for a hooking penalty, which I thought was a cross-check.  The Lightning looked like they were going to stop Pittsburgh again on the power play but a beautiful behind the net pass from Evegni Malkin to Patric Hornqvist decreased the Lightning’s lead to 3-2.

The Lightning caught a break with 1:41 left in the second period when Sydney Crosby missed a chip across the goal line on a 2-on-1. The Lightning countered with a slow developing 3-on-1, but Fleury stoned Tyler Johnson twice on the doorstep and the second period finished with the Lightning leading 3-2.

The Lightning jumped out of the locker room and onto the ice with three quick shots but were denied by Fleury. With only 13 shots through 2 periods, it was evident that Coach Cooper wanted them to shoot more in the third.

The power plays continued for the Lightning with 17:12 left in the third period as Chris Kunitz boarded Cedric Paquette. The Lightning had a couple of chances on the power play with Fleury denying the best opportunity as Stamkos hit his patented slap shot from the circle into his glove. The Pens gained some momentum after the kill and Andrei Vasilevskiy came up huge with a door step stop on Evegni Malkin.

The Penguins got the equalizer as the Lightning pushed on the offensive side of the ice. Victor Hedman shot the puck on Fleury who made the save and the Pens rushed up ice. Pittsburgh missed on the 2-on-1 when the shot went high but they continued to press and Trevor Daly crushed one from the left circle passed Vasilevskiy to tie the game at 3 with a little over nine minutes to play.

The Lightning had a chance to go up 4-3 but the left post said “I don’t think so” as Nikita Kucherov clanked one and the score remained 3-3.

A minute later Pittsburg took its first lead of the night on a “seeing eye dog shot” over the glove shoulder of Vasilevskiy by Chris Kunitz. At this point in the game Pittsburgh was dominating in the shot department 34-21 and it was paying off with a 4-3 lead with just under 5 minutes to play.

Anton Stralman gave the Lightning fans something to cheer about with a reverse spin move in the right circle and a back hand shot over Fleury’s right shoulder to tie the game at 4-4. Chants of “Lets Go Lightning” filled the rafters and energy poured from the stands onto the ice.

The Lightning and the Penguins swapped opportunities to take the lead but the game went into a 5 minute 3-on-3 overtime session. Stamkos, Johnson, Malkin and Crosby… The best offensive players going at it. This setup is what the NHL envisioned when they made the switch this off season.

Pittsburgh had the best of it in overtime but Vlad Namestnikov did it again for the Bolts by crashing the net and chipping it back on goal after a blue line dragging play by Kucherov. The puck went off Patric Hornquist’s skate and past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Bolts a huge 5-4 overtime victory over the Penguins and a hat trick for Namestnikov.

Up next for the Lightning is one of the hottest teams in the NHL in the Florida Panthers on Sunday at the Oil Can at 5 pm.

Tonight’s Three Stars of the game:

90 Vladislav Namestnikov #1 Star of the Game

51 Valtteri Filppula #2 Star of the Game

72 Patric Hornqvist #3 Star of the Game

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