Saturday, November 14, 2015

Game 18: A Winning Streak Always Starts With One

Game: 18
Opponent: Calgary
Did I watch Live?: Yup
Three Stars: 3. Nikita Kucherov 2. Sean Monahan 1. Ben Bishop
Worst Play: With this win, I'm going to say we skip this part today
Well, that was a bit of a relief, eh? Finally a win against a team other than Buffalo. Ben Bishop breaks his five-game losing streak and the Lightning find the back of the net three times (actually five) in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

I'm not going to even worry about the fact that they only mustered three goals against the most porous defense in the league, or that they were held to one goal for most of the game even though they dominated large portions of the game. Steven Stamkos scored. Tyler Johnson scored. And Ben Bishop looked solid in net. What more could you want?

OK. So maybe I'll dwell a bit on the fact that through the first 7 minutes of the game they fired 18 shots in the general direction of former Lightning goalie Kari Ramo. Of those 18, 8 made it though to the Calgary goaltender, but none got past him. So it looked like more of the same. A lot of offensive pressure but nothing to show for it.

For the 18th time in 18 games the Lightning ended the first period without a lead. That is a pretty amazing stat which I'm pretty sure is still true, but I'm not going to look it up. If it's wrong, someone tell me so in the comments.

The second period got off to a much more productive start. Two minutes in, Brian Boyle – that ol' sniper – put one past Ramo. I'm pretty sure he only scored because the puck slipped past his stick when he initially attempted to shoot it, and by the time he had gotten under control he had changed the angle enough to throw Ramo off. Who counted.

Which was nice, because Steven Stamkos had put a puck into the net that didn't count. In front of the crease he tried to kick the puck to his stick to tap a puck into the open net. Unfortunately he missed his stick and it went straight into the net. No goal.

Sam Bennett tied it up a few minutes later and then the negative thoughts started to enter. Would the Lightning be able to score another goal? Would Ben Bishop smash everything in the locker room if he lost 2-1 again? Do the Lightning even know they're allowed to score more than once in a game?

And then good old Steven Stamkos found himself alone in the right circle on the power play. It wasn't the hardest shot he ever put on net, but it found its way behind Ramo and into the net. Two goals in one game! A lead! What an awesome way to play hockey.

Five minutes later the Lightning scored a goal that reminded me of the way they played last year. Dennis Wideman had a chance to clear the puck out of his own zone, but had his pocket picked by Johnson. Kucherov picked up the loose puck and passed it to Johnson. Johnson waited for Kucherov to drift into the slot and passed him the puck, Kucherov (channeling his inner Teddy Purcell) passed it back to Johnson, who despite being shocked that the puck was back on his stick slid it into the gaping net for the insurance goal.

My two favorite moments of the goal are Matt Carle in front of the net doing his best to not get involved and the fan with the “Beat Calgary” shirt. Only because I know that shirt is over 10 years old and there is a 10% chance he bought the one I donated to a thrift shop a few years ago.

A good win over a bad team that hopefully springboards them into a winning streak. Oh yeah, they also had an empty net goal called back because of an offsides. So the argument could be made that they actually scored 5 goals.

Jo or Johnny:

In the first of two head-to-head match-ups, both of our contestants were held off of the score sheet. Gaudreau's line was the more aggressive and generated more scoring opportunities. Drouin only played nine-and-a-half minutes as he skated with JT Brown and Cedric Paquette for most of the night. Johnny Hockey (I did enjoy the moment Rick Peckham referred to him as just “Hockey”like it was his actual last name) still leads 17 points to 6, but I feel a point streak coming on for Mr. Drouin.

Alex Killorn always looks like he is trying to calculate the tax on a dinner bill in his head. Photo by Scott Audette/Getty

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