Thursday night’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames was straight out of the Dickensian novel “A Tale of Three Periods.” There was action. A fast-moving plot. Twists and turns at the drop of a hat (or puck, for that matter). It was an exciting game from beginning to end, and the ending came upon you quicker than expected.
But anyway, on to the game. In the first period, the Lightning and Flames played fairly evenly. Both teams were playing aggressive and making plenty of hits, and no one team controlled the puck for the majority of the period. The Lightning started off the game strong and got a goal from Teddy Purcell five minutes in, but the Flames took control of the final four minutes of play and knocked in a goal with 30 seconds remaining.
In the second period, though, the Lightning game out like a team possessed. They allowed a goal two minutes into the period, but then didn’t allow the Flames another shot on goal for 14 minutes. They out-hustled the Flames to pucks and played a fast, aggressive period, out-shooting the Flames 18 to 5 and scoring three goals. After weeks of playing subpar, uninspiring hockey, this was the Lightning teams fans had been dying to see.
There’s this concept called “regression”, though, and it hit the Lightning hard in the third period. It took then 13 minutes to get their first shot off, and the Flames controlled the puck for the majority of the period. They scored their first goal only a minute into the period, and then tied the game up at four on a power play opportunity late in the period. They Lightning couldn’t get the same sort of momentum going like they had earlier in the game, and Mattieu Garon ended up making a few impressive saves to keep the Bolts from letting in more.
But it didn’t take the Lightning long to pull out the win in overtime. Steven Stamkos came out hard immediately after the puck drop, and he engineered a passing drive that culminated in him scoring the game-winning goal a mere 30 seconds in. It was the Bolts’ fourth overtime win of the season, and it gives them 28 points in the standings.
The Lightning may have played like three different teams over the course of this game, but hey, at least they managed to pull out a win. And if they play like their second period iteration from today more often, there could be plenty more in their near future.
To join in the conversation during the game, check out SB Nation’s blog on the Lightning, Raw Charge.