The beginning of the NHL season has been full of uncertainty, but after six games the Tampa Bay Lightning have been able to jump out to an early lead in the Southeast division. After bashing the bullies from Broad Street on Sunday the Bolts welcomed their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, into the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night.
The Bolts came into the game as the highest scoring team in the league and they did not disappoint the sellout crowd, thumping the Panthers 5-2.
Steven Stamkos started the scoring for Tampa Bay on the power play in the opening period. Martin St. Louis recorded his ninth assist of the young season and Vinny Lecavalier got his fifth helper as well. The lead was short-lived though as Peter Mueller took advantage of a mistake by Lightning goalie Anders Lindback, the goal was Mueller’s second of the season for the Panthers.
Youth will certainly be a viable resource in the hectic, lockout shortened season and much of the Bolts’ early success can be attributed to their 23-year old rookie, Cory Conacher. Tampa Bay regained the lead on a breakaway goal by Conacher, the goal was great but the pass from Victor Hedman was spectacular. The goal was Conacher’s third of the season and the score after one period was 2-1.
Tom Pyatt and Dana Tyrell scored in the second period for the Lightning to stretch the lead to 4-1 after two periods. The goal for Tyrell was his first since tearing his ACL in 2011.
In the third period Tampa Bay’s captain, Vinny Lecavalier, scored a power-play goal on an amazing set up by Benoit Pouliot and Cory Conacher. Lecavalier’s third goal of the season put the game away and looked just plain easy.
Home has been particularly sweet for the Bolts’ as they have scored at least five goals in each home game this season. Tampa Bay has outscored their opponents 22-10 at home and has scored on 38% of power plays, while killing off 88% of opposing power plays.
Tampa Bay (5-1-0) will play next against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at home.