Friday, December 26, 2008

Game 34: Tampa Bay at Florida

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second game in a row against the Florida Panthers by a score of 4-3 in a shoot out.

Ah yes - the dreaded shoot out. Well, at least it worked in Tampa Bay's favor tonight. They went four guys apiece, and Malone got the game winner. Hall & Artyukhin were the first two for the Lightning, and that actually worked for them since Hall scored one of the shoot out goals.

The Lightning has been ahead going into the third 3-1, but a string of unfortunate penalties did them in. Stillman for the Panthers scored while Eminger was in the box, which was the fourth penalty in a row that Tampa Bay had taken in the period. That shifted the momentum to Florida's favor.

I thought that they came out with a lot of jump, and played pretty consistently for most of the game. There was a bit during the second where they couldn't break into the offensive zone if their lives had depended upon it, Smith was having troubles handling the puck, and then came the string of penalties the first half of the third. So there was about 20 minutes where nothing really went right for them, although they still did fairly well despite that in terms of effort.

They need to figure out how to play with a lead. But I kind of got the impression that they were a little surprised themselves that they were ahead in the game. Still, they hung in there and won it in the end. I think that's a very encouraging and a good sign. That doesn't mean that they won't still have their troubles - every team does, occasionally, regardless of where they are in the standings - but I think they're finally on their way out of the woods.

Statistically, they weren't all that good with faceoffs the first couple of periods. That might've been part of their holding onto a lead problem. The pulled themselves together in the third on that, tho.

And as much as I hate to admit it - mostly because I hate admitting that management/ownership got at least one thing right defensively this season - Eminger has been a great addition to the team. Nothing against Eminger at all, just that all of their other moves in regards to the defense haven't exactly been steller. I guess with all of the moves they've made this season, chances are, not all of them could've been bad. I've been thinking that for a while now, just haven't been quite sure as to how to come out and say it without insulting Eminger.

It's back-to-back games with the Panthers, so tomorrow we get to do this all over again - this time in Tampa. Hopefully, it'll end up with a similar winning result. But one game at a time, right?

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JPFDeuce said...

Smith gets another challenge. I don't think the Panthers are going to go quietly.

This would be huge if the Bolts did claw out a victory. A morale booster to go along with some momentum going into January.