This was a tale of two games. In the first half of the contest, the Ducks owned a large puck possession advantage. That translated into a big edge in shots and scoring chances. But thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s goaltending and the Lightning’s ability to finish a couple of scoring chances, the game was tied, 2-2, after the first 30 minutes.
Then, Brayden Point netted a power play goal at 12:39 of the second period and the game’s narrative changed. From that point onward, the Lightning held the possession advantage. They greatly reduced the number of Anaheim’s chances and added three more goals of their own.
Anaheim is a big, strong team that likes to cycle pucks in the offensive zone. The Ducks did that with great effectiveness during the first period and a half. Their execution, both with and without the puck, was excellent. They clogged up the neutral zone, taking away the Lightning’s time and space. They managed the puck well with crisp, accurate passes that led to extended shifts in the offensive zone. Conversely, the Lightning struggled with turnovers during this time, aiding the Anaheim surge. But the Ducks never were able to get the lead – Vasilevskiy erased many of their best scoring chances.
In the second half of the game, the Lightning cleaned up their puck management and began winning more puck battles. They cleared pucks from the defensive zone efficiently, preventing the Ducks from enjoying those long, sustained offensive zone shifts. They also protected the front of the net well, so Anaheim’s shot attempts weren’t from dangerous areas.
So that’s the big picture of the game. In the first half, even though the Ducks controlled possession, the Lightning were able to keep the game tied. In the second half, the Lightning drove play and outscored Anaheim, 4-0.
But there were other elements to the win. The Lightning’s net front presence paid big dividends. Four of their six goals came on rebounds/loose pucks from right in front of the net. Credit Point, Pat Maroon, Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat for establishing position and being the in the right spot to convert on Grade-A chances after there was an initial shot from the point.
The Lightning’s power play, after yielding a shorthanded goal on the first chance, converted on the next three opportunities. Those goals helped the Lightning overcome Anaheim’s shorty and win the special teams battle (that’s true even when counting the Ducks’ other goal as a power play tally, even though it came three seconds after a penalty ended).
Tonight began a busy five-game-in-eight-day stretch for the Lightning. They’ll look for their third straight win when they host Buffalo on Monday.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Andrei Vasilevskiy – Lightning. 36 saves.
- Brayden Point – Lightning. Two goals.
- Mikhail Sergachev – Lightning. Assist.