Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning sprint past Nashville for win

Tampa Bay’s 5-2 victory is sparked by an early onslaught, including a horn-beating goal.
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7), left, gets a pass from center Brayden Point (21) and then passes back to Point as Point scores beating Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the final second of first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7), left, gets a pass from center Brayden Point (21) and then passes back to Point as Point scores beating Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the final second of first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Feb. 2, 2021|Updated Feb. 2, 2021

TAMPA — With 6.5 seconds remaining in the first period Monday, fleet-on-skates Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph crossed his own end line after clearing the puck off the boards to defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

Then, the race began.

A sprint to the net ended with Joseph making one of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see to set up Brayden Point on a perfectly executed give-and-go for the Lightning’s third goal, just before the horn sounded.

It was the backbreaker in a 5-2 win over the Predators at Amalie Arena.

“As fast as these players are in today’s game, that’s ample time, as you saw,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the goal scored with 0.4 seconds left in the period. “I think when I looked up it was six seconds.”

That’s right around the time when Sergachev flipped the puck forward, and Pat Maroon ran a pick through traffic. That allowed the puck through the neutral zone, where it found the end of Point’s stick blade as he swept toward the left circle.

From there, Point and Joseph, arguably the team’s two fastest players, were on their own. The left three Nashville players in shredded ice on a rare 2-on-0 break.

Then they got fancy. Point passed across the slot to Joseph, and as goaltender Juuse Saros slid to his left committing to defend Joseph, the 23-year-old made a touch pass across the crease to Point, who reached behind him and found an open net.

“I think it’s more instinct than anything,” Joseph said of the goal. “You don’t get 2-on-0′s often. You see it around the league in other games, and it’s hard for a goalie to have a couple passes back and fourth and follow the puck.”

Cooper said he looked up at the clock at six seconds but didn’t expect that kind of wizardry.

“You’re not thinking they’re going to go pass, pass, pass,” Cooper said. “But guys are so fast, you can make something out of nothing in almost no time, and that’s what they did.”

The Lightning expected a physical game against Nashville, especially after the teams combined for 18 penalties, including six majors, in a 4-3 Lightning win two nights earlier at Amalie Arena.

After withstanding an early offensive onslaught from Columbus, the Lightning puffed their chests in a different way, showing the Predators why they’re the reigning Cup champs

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) on a play where he passes to right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) and then gets the puck back from Joseph and scores beating Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the final second of first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) on a play where he passes to right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) and then gets the puck back from Joseph and scores beating Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the final second of first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

The Lightning (5-1-1) opened the scoring with three first-period goals, then withstood a third-period rally by Nashville.

“We had weathered the storm a little bit early,” Cooper said. “And then you get that first one, it’s probably a little deflating for them. And then it wasn’t so much the second one but the third one’s a tough one to give up (for Nashville) with one second left to go.”

The show Joseph and Point put on to end the first was one that fans would be talking about — if they were allowed in the arena. The Lightning is 4-0-0 at home to start the season for the sixth time in franchise history, all played with no fans in the stands because of the pandemic.

Tampa Bay seemed energized playing an extra seventh defenseman and just 11 forwards, allowing some forwards extra shifts on the fourth line. That’s how Point ended up paired with Joseph on their goal.

“You always want more ice time,” said forward Yanni Gourde, who had two goals on the night, including an empty-netter late in the third. “We’re competitors, but I think (an) 11-and-7 (setup) brings a little bit of a different vibe to our game. It’s fun to go back there with different players sometimes.”

Joseph, shuttled to the minors last season and practicing but not playing in the postseason bubble, has emerged as a key part to the fourth line. He has assumed the center spot on the line, with Mitchell Stephens out for two months.

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18), left, celebrates his goal, the first of the game, with center Steven Stamkos (91) as Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) remains down during first period action at Amalie Arena on
Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18), left, celebrates his goal, the first of the game, with center Steven Stamkos (91) as Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) remains down during first period action at Amalie Arena on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

“When he can use his speed, he can be a real danger on the ice offensively,” Steven Stamkos said. “I think he’s been a really big part of our success early on in the season.”

In the second period, Stamkos became the Lightning’s franchise leader in career power-play points. His wrister from the left circle went through Dante Fabbro’s legs and beat Saros far post, 7:23 into the period.

The goal, Stamkos’ fourth of the season, gave him 301 power-play points, passing Marty St. Louis. Stamkos also assisted on the team’s first goal, Ondrej Palat’s score 9:13 into the game.

Much like Saturday, when they turned a three-goal deficit into a one-goal game in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 win, the Predators forced the issue in the third period. Nashville scored twice in a 2-minute, 48-second span.

The Predators played with an extra attacker for almost the final five minutes before Gourde’s empty-netter with 15 seconds left sealed it.

• • •

Thunderstruck: Celebrate the Tampa Bay Lightning’s one-of-a-kind championship season with this hardcover collector’s book

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge