The Tampa Bay Lightning have a long way to go with crucial scorer Steven Stamkos, yet they passed their first of many tests without him on Tuesday, eking out a 2-1 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens.
If the numbers say anything, it wasn’t one of those “hold on for dear life and hope for the extra shootout point” situations, though.
The Lightning bombarded the Habs with 45 shots on goal and only allowed 29. That’s quite the effort for a team that was facing back-to-back contests without a guy who easily led them in scoring.
Then again, maybe that’s the point. The Lightning were among the cream of the East’s crop without much of a mention before Stamkos’ injury. If they can keep this up without one of the league’s best forwards (a tall order, no doubt) maybe people will finally take notice of the team’s strengths beyond a few stars?
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: