Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Lightning Drop Blue Jackets in Overtime
The Tampa Bay Lightning had just about a week off between their first two games of the year and Thursday night’s tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that apparently wasn’t enough rest for them. They tacked on 21 seconds of additional shuteye before showing up to play. While that recipe won’t work every time, it did on this occasion. The Lightning won a 3-2 overtime decision to extend their record to a perfect 3-0-0. Here are tonight’s thumbs:
Thumbs Down: The John Tortorella/Pierre-Luc Dubois Situation
It’s rare that a non-Lightning happening takes top billing in a ‘Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down’ recap, but the situation between John Tortorella and Pierre-Luc Dubois deserves it. What an unmitigated disaster. It’s no secret that Dubois wants out, and it looks like Tortorella is more than happy to drive his trade value right to the floor. Following an unenergetic effort in a puck battle with Tampa’s Tyler Johnson, Dubois was banished from relevance in this game. Even if you’re of the belief that he was deserving of some kind of reprimand for that uninspired moment, it’s tough to sell the rest of the players on the bench that sitting your best player in an incredibly tight game makes sense. The Blue Jackets were essentially fighting with one hand tied behind their back after that.
Thumbs Up: Brayden Point? In Overtime? Against the Blue Jackets?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Brayden Point scored the overtime winner against the Blue Jackets. Point’s second of the season was a prime example of the good that can come when a head coach has the option to send out three of the game’s absolute best players in overtime. Matching the skill level that Point, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos bring to the ice in that situation would be nearly impossible for any team, and especially for a team that relies more on system than raw talent like Columbus.
Thumbs Down: The Start
As mentioned, the Lightning took an additional 21 seconds of rest before really engaging in this game. That was enough for Columbus to strike with an early goal for the 1-0 lead. Almost everything went wrong on the play: Victor Hedman got walked, Andrei Vasilevskiy bit on a pass that didn’t exist, and the Blue Jackets put the puck in the back of the net.
Thumbs Up: The Response
It would have been easy for the Lightning to take that early deficit and let it snowball, but they did the opposite. Even though it wasn’t particularly pretty, the underlying numbers paint a picture of a solid performance. Per Natural Stat Trick, Tampa Bay generated 56% of the shot attempts and 67% of the expected goals at five-on-five. It was very reminiscent of games between these two teams in the past, in that the Bolts seemed to be in control but could do nothing to pull away on the scoreboard.
Thumbs Up: Blake Coleman’s Goal
Welcome back from the COVID list, Blake Coleman. His second goal of the year was one of the prettier goals you’ll ever see out of a “checking line” in the NHL. Dogged determination to steal the puck in the defensive zone was followed up with a quick zone entry, which was followed up with picture-perfect patience and passing from Ryan McDonagh, which was followed up with Coleman’s conversion. Simply splendid.
Thumbs Up: The Fourth Line
After a rough go in the first two games of the year, the fourth line settled in and “clicked” tonight. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Pat Maroon, Mitchell Stephens, Mathieu Joseph line combined to generate absurdly good results from a fourth line, including a 62% five-on-five shot attempt share and 76% expected goal share.
And, while it didn’t come with the trio out together, it was nice to see a member of that line contribute on offence. Joseph’s second of the year, assisted by Ryan McDonagh and Anthony Cirelli, was a great example of how being situationally aware, getting into the right spot, and taking a quick shot on goal can lead to good things.
The Lightning will be right back in action against these same Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon, looking to win a fourth consecutive game to start the season.
As always, thanks for reading.