It took till game 44, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might have finally gotten their first taste of some real adversity in the 2017-18 season. The Bolts welcomed a streaking Calgary Flames team to Amalie Arena and were locked in a 1-1 tie late in the 2nd period. Then everything changed. All Star defenseman, Victor Hedman went down with an apparent left knee injury and had to be helped off the ice. That injury took all the air out of Amalie Arena and seemed to take all the air out of the Lightning as well. Calgary scored twice in the final minutes of the 2nd and added 2 more in the 3rd to hand Tampa Bay one of their worst losses of the year at 5-1.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to open up in this game. The Lightning had a great scoring chance after winning the opening faceoff, but then were bitten on the counter attack. Micheal Ferland continued his hot streak as of late and put the Flames in front just 29 seconds in. The rest of the opening period was a fast moving one. The Bolts had numerous, very good scoring chances. Ondrej Palat had 4 shots, but Mike Smith was the best player on the ice. The Calgary goalie made a fantastic save on a firecracker of a shot late in the period on Nikita Kucherov that kept his team in front heading to the 2nd period.
There was another early goal in the 2nd period, but this time the Bolts were on the right side of it. Brayden Point made a fantastic play to tie the game up 31 seconds in. The Lightning had a chance to get in front near the 5 minute mark of the frame. Cedric Paquette was granted a penalty shot after he was hooked going in for a shot. Paquette probably held on to the puck for too long and Smith was able to deny him. The second half of the period really went downhill for the Lightning. Victor Hedman exited the game on what looked like it could be a serious left leg injury. The air was sucked out of the building at that point and Calgary took advantage. Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett scored within 2 minutes of each other on some fortunate bounces. Those goals gave the road team a multi-goal advantage heading to the final period of regulation.
The momentum stayed squarely in the corner of Calgary in the 3rd. The Lightning looked like a deflated team and the Flames added on to end any hopes of a comeback. Mark Jankowski scored just past the 2-minute mark to make it 4-1. Matthew Tkachuck added a goal of his own at 8:34. That would be the 4th Calgary goal due to an odd man rush and ended the scoring at 5-1.
The Bolts will now be on their NHL mandated bye week for the next 7 days. The Lightning will return to the ice on next Thursday night in a rematch of one of their most exciting games of the season. The Vegas Golden Knights will come to Amalie Arena for the very first time. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30. Pregame coverage will begin an hour prior on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. CGY - Ferland - (Monahan, Gaudreau) - 0:29
1. TBL - Point - (Johnson, Palat) - 0:31
2. CGY - Gaudreau - (Ferland, Hamilton) - 16:48
3. CGY - PPG - Bennett - (Brodie, Jankowski) - 18:43
1. CGY - Jankowski - (Hathaway) - 2:19
2. CGY - Tkachuck - (Brouwer) - 8:34
1. TBL - Killorn - (Fighting) - 0:38
2. CGY - Brouwer - (Fighting) - 0:38
1. CGY - Bennett - (Holding) - 1:31
2. CGY - Giordano - (Holding) - 5:15
3. CGY - Hathaway - (High Sticking) - 14:15
4. TBL - Johnson - (Holding) - 17:21
1. CGY - Ferland - (Tripping) - 3:56
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 34
Calgary - 24