The old guard continued to lead the way for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their 6-3 opening night victory over the Washington Capitals. Martin St. Louis scored the game-winner at 4:57 in the third period to complete his three-point night while Vincent Lecavalier tallied a goal and an assist.
That’s not to say that the young guys didn’t get involved, though.
Anders Lindback, in his first career start for the Lightning, made 27 saves on 30 shots, including a key stretch in the first period where he stopped the Capitals first seven shots and prevented them from scoring despite two power play chances in the first five minutes.
Cory Conacher, the reigning American Hockey League Most Valuable Player, wasted no time winning over the hometown fans, scoring his first career National Hockey League goal in his first game as a Bolt.
“[I was] very excited,” Conacher said in a post-game interview on the Lightning’s official website. “A lot of emotions—obviously—going through my head. Purcell set me up very nicely.”
The unadulterated joy he expressed after his goal in jumping into the boards with a wide grin brought a smile to the face of every person in attendance. Overjoyed and passionate on the ice, Conacher is an exciting and fun player to watch.
However, while the Baby Bolts did make valuable contributions, it was the old guard led by the captain and his alternate who turned the tide in Game One.
St. Louis assisted on Eric Brewer’s game-opener at 6:24 in the first and Vinny gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead following Joel Ward’s power play goal for Washington.
Despite being out-shot 17-8 in the first, Tampa Bay had a one-goal lead heading into the second.
Although the Lightning would close the shot margin gap substantially in the second period, it was the Capitals who made a game of things, tying things up just two minutes into the period on Joel Ward’s second goal.
Following a St. Louis power play goal, Washington tied the game during a stretch of four-on-four late in the period. After out-shooting Washington 13-6 in the second, the game managed to stay tied 3-3.
In the third, the savvy veterans took over, with St. Louis and Brewer each scoring power play goals (with Conacher’s goal sandwiched between), both for their second score of the game. The Lightning never trailed in the game.
It may have been just one game but it was a promising start for the Lightning as the offense was firing on all cylinders and the goal-tending and defense played well enough to win.
One thing the Bolts definitely need to cut back on is their penalty minutes. Three early penalties in a game against a good team can put them out of a game real quick. That is just too much pressure on a goaltender.
The Lightning’s depth is to be tested early as they travel to New York to battle the Islanders Monday afternoon at 1 pm ET.
The game is the first of a back-to-back for Tampa Bay, one of eight in this shortened season. They have to travel to Carolina on Tuesday.
Washington, on the other hand, needs to remember that this was just one game because Braden Holtby was not impressive in allowing six goals on 34 shots. Capitals management better hope that his playoff performance a last season was no flash in the pan.
Alexander Ovechkin misfired on all four of his shot attempts and flopped around like a European soccer player throughout the game. At one point in the second, he even managed to simultaneously draw and incur a penalty at the same time.
The Capitals will have a couple of days to recover in time for their home opener Tuesday night against another Southeast Division rival, the Winnipeg Jets (Puck Drop: 7 pm ET).