By Peter Bojarinov
Raw Charge/Jablam Sports
Anthony Cirelli snatched back the lead for Tampa Bay as the Lightning edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Thursday evening.
Alex Killorn, and Mathieu Joseph scored for Tampa (29-10-5). Damon Severson had a goal and an assist, Jack Hughes had a goal for New Jersey (15-22-5). Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the Lightning,while Jon Gillies stopped 32 for the Devils.
“They’re very deceptive. They’re shooting pucks. Defensive is always shooting. He sets up his partner’s on the outside,” said Mihkael Sergachev about Devils power play and Hughes after the match. “Sometimes they make fakes, We try to defend it. It kind of works.”
High Sticking Night (1)
On a Sergachev high sticking penalty, the Devils got on the board early with a point shot from blueliner Severson(4:33) on the man advantage. With the early lead, the Devils would gain confidence pressuring Tampa into turnovers and peppering shots at Vasilevskiy.
Tampa would have their best opportunity late in the first period off of a two-on-one rush. Cirelli fed it to Brayden Point, who slid it back to wide open Ondrej Palat. But Devil’s goaltender Gillies turned aside veteran Palat’s quick wrister from the slot.
After the first period, Lightning’s assistant coach Derek Lalonde said “A fast opponent… they are young. They normally play north, lean north a little predictable….Fortunately, I don’t think we were ready for the pace, but I think we picked it up and started to take over that period.”
High Sticking Night (2)
On another early high sticking penalty by the Devils, the Bolts took advantage. To start the second, Killorn scored going forehand-to-backhand on a rebound in front of young Gillies at 1:46. The third straight high sticking penalty of the night, the only penalties called, the visitors’ Jonas Siegenthaler was cut open by Jan Rutta for a four minute double minor.
High Sticking Night (3)
Tampa had three quick man down chances until Cirelli was hooked for a penalty shot opportunity. Anthony would be stopped on the backhanded shot, but the Lightning would convert on their fourth shorthanded chance when Joseph put in his own rebound at 5:44 of the second period to take the lead 2-1.
“Jon Gillis. Yeah, he’s been playing well honestly” said Mathieu Joseph about the opposing goaltender and his four-on-five goal, “I kind of wanted to hit Belly(Pierre-Edouard Bellemare) there. I thought the defenceman played that well and I got lucky on the rebound.”
What? Not High Sticking?
Devils would strike for the first even-strength goal of the night when Jack Hughes pounced on a puck off the boards at 10:55 to the right of the reigning Vezina goaltender. A hard shot that was wide of Vasilevskiy gave him no chance to recover for the youthful forward’s shot to tie the game in the third frame.
But Cirelli took the lead back only a minute later on another in-tight goal on Gillies for the 3-2 game-winner. Ryan McDonagh got the puck quickly up the ice, Point sent it towards the next to the eager five-year veteran to shovel the puck in.
Peter’s 3 Charged Rocks and 3 Stars:
Rocks: Jan Rutta, Corey Perry, Ross Colton.
Stars: Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Anthony Cirelli
NOTES: The only penalties called in the game were three high sticking infractions. The Lightning are now (11-1-1) in the last 13 games. Joseph scored his 4th shorthanded goal of the season. Kucherov missed the game being on the Covid-19 list, Ondrej Palat returned to the club tonight. Steven Stamkos ranks 6th in the NHL with 50 points(20 goals,and 30 assists). The Lightning are ranked seventh in scoring 9.3 points per game. Last meeting between the two clubs was Nov. 20, Devils won 5-3. Ross Colton was raised in New Jersey and
grew up a fan of the Devils.
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