Through the time leading up to training camp, the message was always the same; getting off to a good start would be key, especially through with the shortened season, no team could afford to find themselves in an early hole.
After Sunday’s 5-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, mission accomplished, right?
“Yeah,“ Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said when asked if this is how he would draw up a good start. “The one game we lost, we killed ourselves and we almost came back. We realize what we have to do as a team to be successful and that is play solid defensively because we now know our offense can take over hockey games. And take advantage of this home stand. Our team is very good at home; we know that we were last year. We want to take advantage; especially teams coming in here that we are catching on back to backs, we want to take advantage of that.”
The Lightning were led by Martin St. Louis, who had a four point night, all assists, falling just one point short of a career high, also against the Philadelphia Flyers. Teddy Purcell also had a strong game, collecting three points on a goal and two assists.
The tone was set early in this game. After the Flyers scored less than a minute into the game, Vincent Lecavalier dropped the gloves with Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. It was Lecavalier’s first fight since 2009 in a game against Tim Jackman of the New York Islanders. From there, the Lightning would score three straight in the first period with goals from Purcell, Eric Brewer, and Lecavalier
The second period that has been such a problem for the Lightning in the early part of the year was not a problem at all for the Lightning Sunday night, as they got through the frame unscathed and held on to a 3-1 lead.
In the third period, the Lightning extended the lead when Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos added goals to put the game away, and send the Lightning to a 4-1 start.
Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback had a rough start to the game, giving up a bad angle goal that was scored almost from the goal line, but recovered nicely, stopping the rest of the 24 shots he saw in leading the team to victory.
“We have great character on this team,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “As a team we just kept rolling on and after the first period we had the lead and coming into the second we know we had been struggling in the beginning of our games but we just played a solid second period. There is still stuff we can improve but overall it’s just a 60 minute game.”
The Lightning will continue the home stand Tuesday Night when they take on the Florida Panthers at 7:30.