The month of February hasn’t shown much love to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning headed into this game looking to right their ship after losing three straight games and having only won once without the help of extra periods in this shortened month. It would be remiss if I forget to mention that this comes during their longest home stand of the season. Playing a red-hot Phoenix Coyotes team tonight shouldn’t have helped their cause…
But if you have a fast start against a hot team, that might be all you need. A quick start will build confidence for your team and deflate the other team. That’s exactly what the Bolts did–build confidence for themselves and used that to decimate their opponent. For teams looking for a blueprint on stopping a team on an eight game winning streak dead in its tracks look no further than the Lightning.
It all started with a harmless shot toward the net. Teddy Purcell let a wrister lose from the right circles and had the puck deflect off a Coyotes defender and through the wickets of Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera.
The Lightning never looked back. Within 1:02 of the Purcell goal, Martin St. Louis snapped his scoreless streak that goes back to January 23rd with a great effort following his rebound off LaBarbera’s shoulder and batting it in off the shaft of his stick.
The Coyotes looked discombobulated and frustrated after the early goals and could not set-up anything resembling sustained pressure during the first period. Dumps into the zone were adeptly picked up by the Lightning defense; passes were stopped by sticks and turned into quick clears out of the zones or quick outlet passes to a rushing forward; and shots were mostly kept to the perimeter.
St. Louis would score a powerplay goal on a Shane Doan penalty and Steven Stamkos broke his five-game scoreless streak by notching a powerplay goal. But it wasn’t over, to cap off a first period that the Pacific Division leading Phoenix Coyotes will want to forget was a beautiful powerplay goal off a one-timer from Vincent Lecavalier to put the Bolts up 5-0 after one. The last time the Lightning scored 5 goals in the first period was in 1995 against the Hartford Whalers.
The second period started like the first with Purcell getting another goal early and eventually getting his first career hat trick at 8:17 into the 2nd. Linemate Lecavalier would end the night with a five-point effort (1g, 4a).
Adam Hall made it 8-1 at 4:52 in the third period.
The Coyotes ended up pushing back in the third period, but it was too little too late. The Coyotes got goals from Martin Hanzal, Kyle Turris, and David Schlemko.
All the big players that the Bolts needed to get on the board did so in a big way. St. Louis, Stamkos, and Lecavalier combined for 10 points.
The well-rested Devils come into town on Friday riding an 11-game winning streak. All the Bolts have to do is open up the top-secret blue print they used to beat the Coyotes and put that into use again.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Tran
New York transplant from California, and an avid blogger and sports fan. As he tends to do every year, he picks an Eastern Conference NHL team to root for until they become too good and he fears for his team out west. If you want to talk hockey with me, feel free to send a line.