The Tampa Bay Lightning showed resilience Thursday night, October 13th, beating Atlantic Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4, in front of a sellout crowd of over 19,000 at Amalie Arena.
A commemorative puck, featuring the logo of both teams, with Downtown Tampa in the background
After the pomp and circumstance of opening night that included a message from team owner Jeff Vinik and the introduction of Lightning players and staff, an actual hockey game remained to be played. And what a game it was.
It didn’t start the way the home fans had hoped for. Red Wings newcomer Thomas Vanek scored a power-play goal at the 3:12 mark of the 1st period to give Detroit an early 1-0 lead. Just over five minutes later, Vanek scored again. That would be it for scoring for the opening period, but before even half of that period had been played, it was 2-0 Detroit, and quite frankly, the Lightning looked lost.
Jonathan Drouin would open the scoring for the Lightning at 7:23 of the 2nd period with a power-play goal of his own. Less than a minute later, however, Frans Nielsen would put the Red Wings up 3-1 to almost immediately take any life that had returned to Amalie Arena away. Cedric Paquette would score an unassisted goal for the Lightning at 13:05, and through 2 periods it was 3-2 Detroit, but after the Paquette goal, it seemed the Lightning had new life.
New life they indeed had as Brian Boyle would tie the game at 3:17 of the 3rd, Tyler Johnson would give the Lightning the lead at 8:34 and Alex Killorn seemingly sealed the deal at 16:50. However, one of the weirdest goals you’ll ever see in a hockey game happened shortly thereafter to make it a one goal game again.
With Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek making a break for the bench for an extra attacker, a seemingly normal dump in by Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings, a play which mainly serves as an attempt to get the puck into the offensive zone while making a line change, took a funny bounce off the boards and somehow bounced off of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and into the net to make it 5-4 Tampa Bay. Over two minutes remained to play and in a one goal game now, anything could happen.
However, crisis avoided for the Lightning as, with Mrazek out of the net in favor of an extra Red Wing skater, Valtteri Filppula would score an empty net goal at 18:39 to seal the deal and give the Lightning a hard earned opening night victory.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to make any meaningful conclusions off of this one game. Especially a game where Tampa Bay looked downright lost during the first 20 minutes.
It’s easy to say that this is a team that will never quit, even when down two goals after the first and even when they go back down two goals, as was the case shortly after Drouin’s goal. It’s also easy to blame the same cast of characters who dug the 2-0 hole in the first place. It’s easy to blame Ben Bishop for giving up four goals, just as it’s easy to absolve him of the blame on the goals, especially that last freak goal.
Ultimately, the only real conclusion that can be taken from this game is that the Lightning were able to get six goals from six different scorers to take two points in an Atlantic Division rivalry game. At the end of the night, it wound up being a good start to the season, but it’s important to remember that it’s just one of 82.