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Victories breed confidence and there is no doubting that this Lightning team is a confident group. Now, with 3 key wins in a row, the Lightning seem to have a sort of swagger that hasn’t been seen all season. Every two points hold so much weight in this league. There is so much parity that you need to make every game count. Right now, the Lightning are doing exactly that. When I laid out my predictions for this stretch I thought 2-1 on this home stand would have been fantastically acceptable. Going 3-0 just makes it that much sweeter. Now, out on the road for the next three games, the Lightning need to keep the victories coming. Here’s my post-game analysis.

The First Period
The first period started exactly as any Lightning fan would have wanted it. The offense was buzzing, the defence was limiting shots and everything seemed to be working according to plan for the Bolts. Garon made a few saves, the Lightning forwards got a few chances and all of a sudden the Bolts had a 1-0 lead thanks to none other than Steven Stamkos. The goal was quite impressive as the Bolts were able to generate a counterattack quite quickly and move the puck up ice. Give Steve Downie a lot of credit for the first assist. He was really the pioneer on the play if you ask me.

The period would end with the Carolina Hurricanes getting a late powerplay. Just as I mentioned last game, the penalty kill spent too much time chasing the puck. What happened? It resulted in a relatively easy goal for Carolina. The goalie really doesn’t have a chance on the play when two opposition players are left wide open on opposite sides of the ice. The Bolts have to do a better job of cutting down the opposition’s choices when it comes to passing plays.

Bolts Player of the Period: Steven Stamkos

The Second Period
After the first period, it was pretty clear that the Lightning deserved a better fate than a 1-1 tie. That said, hockey isn’t a game of chances or anything else; it’s all about outscoring your opponent. That’s something the Lightning had a little bit of trouble with in the first.

The second didn’t begin the way you would have hoped. The Carolina Hurricanes ended up taking the lead with a goal from Harrison. It was another powerplay goal for the ‘Canes in which the penalty killers were just scrambled all over the ice. Someone on the Bolts’ coaching staff has got to be able to identify this. Am I the only who feels like the Bolts are leaving formation way too easily? I surely hope not.

The lead was somewhat short lived as the Bolts fought back, and fought back hard. The team was just all over the loose pucks in the ‘Canes zone. It’s that kind of effort and determination gives fans that hope. There’s hope that the team can win games like this. The Bolts are somewhat of a confident group right now and that’s really showing through. Wouldn’t you know it? The player to tie up the game was Steven Stamkos on one of the prettiest goals you are going to see all year. The assists once again went to St. Louis and Downie giving them both multiple point games. Is that line hot right now, or what?

After scoring, it was powerplay time. I’m not even going to say anything other than this. The Lightning failed to score once again.

Bolts Player of the Period: Steven Stamkos

The Third Period
The third couldn’t have started any better for the Lightning. First there was this foreign thing called a powerplay goal. Finally, we got to see Stamkos unleash that bomb of a shot from the half boards like he did so many times last year. Yes, for those of you keeping track, that was his hattrick goal on the night. Congrats to Stammer on a great hatty! That goal also gave Marty St. Louis his 3rd assist of the night and 500th of his career. Overall, it was a huge goal to give the Bolts a lead on Phil Esposito night.

Before I could get up and get a glass of water, the Lightning struck again (no pun intended). This time it was Teddy Purcell with a huge rush from his own blue line right to the goal mouth. He put the puck past Cam Ward to give the Lightning a rather comfortable 2 goal lead. It would be nice to see Purcell use that speed a strength a little more often this season. Perhaps this goal will give him the confidence necessary to do so.

From there, things just seemed to unravel for the Hurricanes. There was a little bit of a lull in play but you could still tell that this was the Lightning’s game to lose. That lull didn’t last long as Steve Downie came down the ice with Ryan Malone and put a great shot past Cam Ward to extend the lead to 3. Speak of 3s, that was Downie’s third point of the night. Is it just me, or has he really cleaned up his act lately? He’s using his speed, he’s physical on the boards and he’s just creating offense.

Was it really a shock to anyone when things got a little out of hand? The ‘Canes were frustrated having given up 3 goals in a very short period of time and you knew that things had a chance of boiling over. Moore thought he had scored his 4th of the season when he put the puck past Ward. Immediately following the puck going in, a rather nasty scrum ensued. After the referees had a nice little discussion, the goal was called off for “goaltender interference”. Now, if that’s goaltender interference, the rulebook needs to be rewritten. That was a terrible call.

Bolts Player of the Period: Steven Stamkos


Overall, fans, players, coaches and management alike have all got to be happy with this afternoon’s performance. The team fought for pucks, created offense, and kept the Hurricanes offense rather dormant 5-on-5. That’s just about all you can ask from a team on any given night. The Lightning now have two days off before heading out on the road for the second half of this six game stretch. First up is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Without giving away my pre-game blog, I’ll say that this is a very winnable game. Could we make it 4 wins in a row? Only time will tell.

On another note: Steve Yzerman announced today that Victor Hedman has a concussion and is out indefinitely. Let’s hope for a quick and full recovery for the big guy.

Thanks for reading and have a happy new year. I wish all of my readers and everyone else in Lightning nation a happy, healthy and safe 2012. Thanks for making this the best team in the league to cover on a daily basis.

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   carolina   hurricanes   phil   esposito  
January 1, 2012 9:08 AM ET | Delete
Where would the lightning be without Steven Stamkos? We have score 104 goals this season as a team and Stamkos have 26 of them. That's 1/4 of them!!!!!
January 1, 2012 10:51 AM ET | Delete
Why, oh why does everyone think that Nabokov is our Savior? Garon is just fine , we need a solid defensemen.
January 1, 2012 12:04 PM ET | Delete
Stammer's pretty damn hot right now. What's that? 8 or 9 in his last 5 games?
January 1, 2012 12:05 PM ET | Delete
*sorry, *10 in his last 8, either way.
January 1, 2012 1:20 PM ET | Delete
Stammer is a monster right now. Normally the kids slow down after they sign a big contract but Stammer is getting more and more hungry every game. He keeps this kind of 2 way effort I can't see why he can't be wearing the "C". Nothing against Vinny but Stammer is doing what Captains should be doing by making players around him better, taking control of games at will, and playing a SOLID 2 way game.
January 1, 2012 1:26 PM ET | Delete
I agree Artyhukin;Hopefully Steevie Y finds another steal for a Defensman and I think we'll be ok. I don't want to get my hopes up to high but being only 6 points out of a playoff spot they have a shot at getting right back in this thing. It would be nice to see a top 6 forward to play with Vinny. then again i think everyone wants a solid top 6 forward.
January 1, 2012 5:51 PM ET | Delete
He's really, really hot right now. His play is lifting this team up to this high level of play. He should be wearing the C. I just got the A put on my Stammer jersey. Even if Ohlund comes back, I have a good feeling it will be staying.
January 1, 2012 5:56 PM ET | Delete
Well it's official; my guy Gorges is off the market. Habs locked him up for 6 years at $3.9million per. That is a steal.
January 1, 2012 7:15 PM ET | Delete
Told ya. However Carolina is FUBAR, Expect them to be sellers come trade deadline day.
January 1, 2012 7:17 PM ET | Delete
Very true, Artyukhin. Gleason is probably the most appealing guy, as you've said.
January 1, 2012 8:37 PM ET | Delete
There are others that are good if Carolina actually spends money instead screwing over there fan base. How about Eminiger, Hunwick or Campoli?
January 2, 2012 3:20 AM ET | Delete
I'd like to hear your opinion on Eminger, Artyukhin. Obviously we've had a little bit of a sample size so it would be nice to hear someone else's opinion on him. To me, he's always been a guy with SO much potential. Yet, he never manages to put it all together. It's also a plus that the most productive stint in his career was in Tampa.
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Blog Archive

01 Lightning News and Notes to Start December
02 Why Bolts Must Get Into Bobby Ryan Trade Discussions
02 Breaking News: Lightning Make Minor Trade with Panthers
03 10 Bold Predictions for Rangers vs. Lightning Game
04 Lightning Lose to Rangers: My Prediction Round Up
06 Simply Embarassing: Lightning Drop 5th Straight to Islanders
08 Lightning Beat Rangers to End Losing Streak - Mixed Bag
10 The 1-3-1 Returns: Flyers Take on Bolts at Wells Fargo
11 Lightning Fall to Flyers: The Slot Looks Like a Drive-Thru
12 From Bad to Worse + Lightning Sign Miettinen
14 Lightning Talk: Defensemen to Target in Free Agent Frenzy
14 Scenario
15 Bolts Squeeze By Flames Thanks to Dominant Second Period
17 Lightning Should Make a Push for Shea Weber
18 Bolts Down Blue Jackets + Rumor Round-Up
20 Why the Lightning WILL make the Playoffs This Season
22 Lightning Embarrassed by Sharks in San Jose: U-G-L-Y
22 Tampa Bay Lightning: I Want Your Opinions
23 Bolts vs. Avalanche: A Long-Winded Game Preview
24 Bolts Lose to Avalanche in Goalie Battle + Rumor Round-Up
25 Risky Business: Victor Hedman and Other Top-5 D-Men
26 Flyers vs. Bolts Shaping Up to be a Great Game -- Preview
27 Next 6 Games Vital for Lightning + My Predictions
27 Bryzgalov Shaky as Lightning Beat Up on Flyers
29 A Tale of Two Underperforming Teams: Bolts vs. Canadiens
29 A V for Vinny, a V for Victory: Bolts Down Habs 4-3
30 Bolts/Canes Preview + HB Hotstove Response + Rumor Update
31 Lightning Defeat 'Canes 5-2 on Phil Esposito Night