There’s a certain switch people have been waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning to flip for a while now. That switch is the switch that was permanently on in the opening months of the season. That switch was on for game 1 against the New Jersey Devils and it carried over to game 2. After going 0-3 against the Devils in the regular season the Lightning are now up 2-0 on New Jersey in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Bolts used a record setting 2nd period to get there and Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson were the heroes once again in the 5-3 victory.
Tampa Bay got the 1st power play chance of the period when former Bolt, Brian Boyle got sent to the box just past the 6 minute mark. The Bolts had a lot of energy on the power play, but the Jersey penalty kill was stout enough to keep the game scoreless. The energy that Tampa Bay had on that power play carried over into the coming minutes. One of the energy guys for the Lightning would be the one to open up the scoring. Brayden Point lit the lamp with assists from Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh to give the home team the lead. That goal seemed to wake up the Devils and they finally started to spend some time in the Lightning zone. Nico Hischier took advantage of a loose puck and Anton Stralman obstructing Andrei Vasilevskiy’s view to tie the game up.
The crowd was a lot quieter to start the 2nd period as many fans were still working their way back to their seats. It didn’t take long for the Bolts to energize those fans though. Ben Lovejoy picked up a delay of game penalty less than 3 minutes into the period and then Alex Killorn scored his 2nd goal of the playoffs about 30 seconds into the penalty to put Tampa Bay back in front. Then the explosiveness of the Bolts went on full display. Less than 2 minutes after the other game 1 hero, Tyler Johnson came through when he deflected a McDonagh shot in to give Tampa Bay a 2-goal advantage. It didn’t stop there for the Lightning. New Jersey were clearly on their heels and it showed when Keith Kinkaid was basically scored on by his own player. The 3rd lightning goal in the 1st 7 minutes of the period was credited to Nikita Kucherov. To call the latter half of the period physical would probably be an understatement. Both teams picked up penalties because of how chippy the play got. While the Lightning penalty kill was up to the task, New Jersey’s was not. Killorn scored his 2nd power play goal of the period to really put the Bolts in control with a 4-goal advantage. That goal led to Kinkaid being pulled in favor of Cory Schneider. Sami Vatanen scored in the closing seconds of the period to cut the lead to 3 goals heading to the final period of regulation.
The Lightning trailed the Devils in shots on goal throughout the game, but got it pretty close to even to start the 3rd period. The chippy play continued and the Lightning were on the wrong side of it when Killorn picked up a hooking penalty. The much maligned Bolts PK unit was up to the task once again though to prevent New Jersey from cracking the door to get back into the game. New Jersey did start to creep back in when Blake Coleman made it 5-3 with right around 8 minutes remaining. Jersey kept the pressure on to try and even the series, but that 2nd period was just too much for them to overcome.
The Bolts will now head out on the road for the next 2 games of the series. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday night in Jersey. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 pm and pregame coverage will begin an hour prior up the dial on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. TBL - Point - (Palat, McDonagh) - 12:15
2. NJD - Hischier - (Unassisted) - 13:38
1. TBL - PPG - Killorn - (Kucherov, Stamkos) - 3:14
2. TBL - Johnson - (McDonagh, Point) - 4:36
3. TBL - Kucherov - (Unassisted) - 6:01
4. TBL - PPG - Killorn - (Kucherov, Hedman) - 13:12
5. NJD - Vatanen - (Greene, Schneider) - 19:34
1. NJD - Coleman - (Zajac, Moore) - 11:57
1. NJD - Boyle - (Holding The Stick) - 6:27
1. NJD - Lovejoy - (Delay of Game) - 2:44
2. NJD - Zacha - (Slashing) - 4:43
3. TBL - Cirelli - (Slashing) - 4:43
4. TBL - Miller - (Elbowing) - 8:51
5. NJD - Palmieri - (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) - 12:21
1. TBL - Killorn - (Hooking) - 5:02
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 25
New Jersey- 44