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Lightning put together a complete game to beat Buffalo in Sweden

Victor Hedman felt the emotions strongly, playing in his home country
Buffalo Sabres' Vladimir Sobotka (17) works the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy defend during an NHL hockey game in Globen Arena, Stockholm Sweden. Friday. Nov. 8, 2019. [ANDERS WIKLUND/TT  |  AP]
Buffalo Sabres' Vladimir Sobotka (17) works the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy defend during an NHL hockey game in Globen Arena, Stockholm Sweden. Friday. Nov. 8, 2019. [ANDERS WIKLUND/TT | AP]
Published Nov. 8, 2019
Updated Nov. 8, 2019

STOCKHOLM — Victor Hedman starred at the Swedish flag, trying to focus and hold off some of the emotion. Hearing his national anthem sung in his native country before an NHL game, and with most of the crowd of 13,230 joining in, he was close to tearing up.

“That’ was probably one of the most special things I’ve experienced as a hockey player,” Hedman said after Friday’s 3-2 win over Buffalo. “The first three shifts were a little off for myself. Once I got settled, I got better.”

This whole experience was emotional for Hedman, just as he knew it would be. He said he was very into the atmosphere and sharing the win with cheering Lightning fans very special.

Answering questions for almost four minutes, Hedman said the word special about six times and added in others like phenomenal and unbelievable.

Getting the win made the game so much better. The experience may be phenomenal but these games count. The Lightning played one of their best games of the season, bringing together the pieces they’ve been talking about.

“We played a pretty complete game,” forward Alex Killorn said. “And we haven’t had that for a big part of the season.”

The Lightning have been taking their game apart to put it back together again. They don’t want a whole new identity — they’re always good to be a fast, skilled team — but to tweak it to add more defensive responsibility.

On Friday, they showed that. Like they have done in the past, the Lightning possessed the puck much of the night. But this wasn’t the kind of offense that covers up your defensive issues. This was offense that came from the defense.

They exited the defensive zone quickly, moving the puck up.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Americans should definitely adopt this Swedish tradition of a break for beverage and pastry

Take the first goal. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk saw an opportunity to put the Lightning on the rush. He rimmed the puck around the boards hard from behind their own net. It came up to Brayden Point, who carried it into the zone with speed and Nikita Kucherov advancing through the center of the ice. All Point had to do was slide the puck over and Kucherov finished the one-timer.

“That’s a world-class finish,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Great from Shatty to recognize that and wrap that around. Pointer throws that over to him and I have yet to see if that puck hit the ice and Kuch puts it in.”

It was a very Kucherov, and very Lightning goal. That first goal, 3:14 into the game, demonstrated that this team can be dangerous offensively and responsible defensively.

Another side of that is the forecheck, which created Yanni Gourde’s goal in the third period.

Winger Pat Maroon battled behind the net, using his size to wrap the puck around and through goaltender Linus Ullmark’s pads. It popped out to Gourde at the far post and he scored the eventual game-winner on the rebound.

“We chipped the puck in and we were really good on the forecheck,” Gourde said. “That’s something we’ve talked about a lot in the past. Our forecheck is our greatest asset and we have to utilize it”

The other important piece for the Lightning is goaltending. Nothing changes for Andrei Vasilevskiy with the tweaks to the system, but he has been inconsistent just as the team has to start the season. He didn’t have to make too many big saves, the team kept the shots down in front of him, but he turned away 20 of the 22 he saw.

The power play scored on one of its four chances (Killorn tipped Hedman’s shot). The Lightning took three penalties, only two created power plays and they killed off both. The team addressed its issues and did what they’ve talked about.

“It can’t just be one game, though,” Hedman said. “We have to make this a habit.”

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  3. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  5. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  8. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  9. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
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  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.