Thursday, October 22, 2015

Game 7 Recap - No Joy (but a point) in Nashville

Game: 7
Opponent: at Nashville
Did I watch Live?: Nope
Why Not?: work
Did I watch on replay?: Yup
Three Stars: 3. Erik Condra 2. Erik Condra 1. Jimmy Neal
Worst Play: Ben Bishop whiffing on covering the puck on the first Nashville goal
Sometimes you just end up on the losing end of an entertaining game. Such was the case Tuesday night when the Lightning traveled to Nashville (no wins for the Bolts since 2008!). Despite the 5-4 shoot-out loss they did walk away with some positives along with their Bettman point.

For the first time all year there were long stretches where they looked like the Lightning of last year. Crisp passing, speed in the neutral zone and shots from the point getting through to goal. They did get a few lucky breaks with the pucks bouncing the right way in the second period, but luck is often a byproduct of hard work and the Lightning were working hard all night.

Unfortunately for them, Nashville was with them step for step. Their first line of Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg and James Neal was sharp. I'm pretty sure Neal ended up with 45 shots on net by the end of the game.

Erik Condra found himself back in the lineup and it looks like he didn't want to spend any more time in the press box. He rang a shot off the post in the first period and then briefly gave the Lightning the lead in the 3rd with a quick snapshot off a beautiful feed from Brian Boyle. It will be interesting to see how Coach Cooper juggles his extra forward to keep Condra, Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown fresh.

The overtime period wasn't quite as chaotic as opening night. There was a lot more circling with the puck and focus on puck possession. Still several opportunities presented themselves, including an Anton Stralman breakaway.

For all the talent they have, the shootout remains a bit of an Achilles Heel for the team. Ryan Callahan, Jonathan Drouin and MY BOY NIKITA KUCHEROV all were denied in the skills session. With all of the breakaways the Boyle has had on the season, I'm a bit surprised he wasn't in the line up.

Jo or Johnny:
Jonathan Drouin found himself back on the top line with Stamkos and Callahan and it looked like the benching paid off. He was extremely strong on the puck in the offensive zone and responsible in the defensive zone. In the overtime he used his hands to pick the pocket of a Nashville player leading to a good chance for the Lightning. He was held pointless (although he set a nice screen on Callahan's goal) and remains at 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists).

The Flames got shellacked by Washington on Tuesday, but Johnny Hockey did assist on both of Calgary's goals. With a game in hand, he takes the lead with 7 points (1 goal, six assists).

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