Lightning Fight Off Crazy Second Period, Defeat Islanders

The Lightning found their way through an up and down game

The Tampa Bay Lightning fought off a second period onslaught by the New York Islanders to win 6-2 Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. Yanni Gourde had two goals in 1:34 of game time, and thirteen different Lightning players tallied at least one point in the affair.

Tampa Bay dominated the opening period from the very beginning, scoring a goal on the first shift of the game as Andrei Palat found Brayden Point in front of net to put the Lightning on top just 34 seconds into the game. The Lightning would go on to control the puck for nearly the entire twenty minutes, not allowing the potent Islanders to set up their high-scoring offense. It seemed that every time New York crossed the Lightning blue line, there was somebody in a blue sweater waiting for them.

On the other end of the ice, the Lightning were relentless in firing the puck in on Thomas Greiss. They took eleven shots in the period, including a second goal when Andrej Sustr fired in a shot from just inside the blue line that snuck past a couple of skaters in front of net and past Greiss to make the score 2-0.

The second period was much the opposite of the first, as the Islanders took control of the puck on the opening face off of the period and holding it throughout. New York was able to get on the scoreboard when Matthew Barzal took the puck through one of the weakest penalty kills of Tampa Bay’s season and got the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Barzal would end up on the score sheet again, this time on an assist to Jordan Eberle that tied the game. Suddenly New York was in control and peppering Vasilevskiy.

After about fifteen minutes of the Islanders dominating the second period, the Lighting were able to draw a penalty and go back on the power play. A stray shot bounced straight to Yanni Gourde on that power play, leading to an easy goal to put the Lightning back on top 3-2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders warm up for their game at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, December 5. (Tim Williams/Sports Talk Florida)

From there, the floodgates opened. The Lightning remained on the attack until a Slater Koekkoek shot created a juicy rebound that Gourde tapped home to extend the Lightning lead to 4-2. A late second period penalty led to a faceoff in the Islanders’ own end, which led to a very quick goal by Vladislav Namestnikov to extend the lead to 5-2. Even in a period where Tampa Bay looked outclassed for most of the 20 minutes, they were able to put the score firmly in their favor.

By the end of the second period, thirteen different Lightning players had tallied at least one point in the contest.

That second period was a great test for the Lightning, going up against a strong Islanders team that plays a similar style to their own. With New York stealing momentum and controlling the action for most of the period, the Lightning managed to keep on an even keel and not panic. Instead, they worked to keep the game tied until they could swing things their way, in this case by drawing penalties.

The third period was largely about the Lightning keeping control of the puck and keeping the Islanders at arm’s length, having seen in detail how tough New York can be when given a chance to set up their offense. After six minutes of keeping the game in front of Vasilevskiy, Chris Kunitz found himself in on the goalie alone. He put one past Thomas Greiss to make the score 6-2.

The win, the Lightning’s league-leading 19th of the year, also brought Tampa Bay into a tie for the league lead in goals. The Lightning came into the game third in the league in goals with 95, trailing both the Islanders and Maple Leafs who had 99. Toronto was off on Tuesday night, so the Lightning victory puts them ahead of their division rivals and tied with New York for the NHL lead.

Tampa Bay’s homestand continues on Thursday night as the Lightning host the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche, one of the worst teams in the NHL last year, are a bit improved as they come into Amalie Arena with a winning record. However, that winning record has not improved their place in the standings, they’re still last in their division.

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Tim Williams has been Sports Talk Florida's National Baseball Columnist since December of 2015. As a member of the STF team, Tim has written about Major League Baseball, the 2016 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament, the 2016 Olympic Games, the Ryder Cup, and Florida Gators Football. Tim has been covering sports since his days at Northeastern University's WRBB student radio, where he announced baseball and football as well as contributing to the coverage of Huskies Hockey, most notably the 2005 and 2006 Beanpot Tournaments. Since, he has written about a number of sports for a number of outlets, including Sports Talk Florida and the American Sports Network. Based in Boston but a Florida native, Tim Williams has a fan's perspective that goes beyond New England. In addition to his columns, you can hear this in The Pickup Game podcast that he has hosted since the Autumn of 2016. When he isn't writing about sports, he can often be seen on golf courses around Massachusetts.