Bolts’ defense plays well in victory over Las Vegas

by Gary Shelton on October 27, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

McDonagh blacked five shots for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 3 a.m.

They are known for their goal-scoring, for their breakneck rushes down the ice, for their deft passing, for their breath-taking shooting. At times, they can light up the scoreboard as if it is a pinball machine.

But more and more, the Lightning is playing on the other end of the ice, too.

The defensemen of the Tampa Bay Lightning stood tall in Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Las Vegas Knights. The Bolts moved to 7-1-1 with the victory.

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Hedman left Friday night's game with an injury./CARMEN MANDATO

Tampa Bay lost Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman in the second period against the Knights and finished with just five defensemen. Still, they held the Knights to two goals, their sixth game of the season allowing two goals or fewer.

"Mac and Stralman," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I think Mac played almost 27 minutes and Strals was up there in the 25s. I know those guys have done that before, but that’s a lot. The big thing is, they were pressing. We didn’t get some pucks deep as we should have. But those guys when they weren’t boxing guys out, they were blocking shots. A pretty fearless effort by those guys.”

The Bolts have allowed the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference

“You’ve got to be smart there, manage your shifts," said Ryan McDonagh, who played well. "The D corps, you know you’re going to have to do it together with different partners too going out there with different guys. You need all five guys out there to manage the puck really well so you don’t get caught in a long shift and kind of blow your energy for the period.

“They had a lot of opportunities. They come at you with speed and it’s tough to contain. I think our best player for sure in that third period was Vasy. We had to block some shots, but we’ve got to continue to put a little more assertiveness in the third and finish it off.”

The Bolts got goals from Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point and J.T. Miller. They took a 3-1 into the final period, but were outshot 13-1 down the stretch.

“They pushed in the first period," Cooper said. "We just didn’t have our skating legs. It was big to come out of that period up a goal. I thought we had an exceptional second. We kind of had them on their heels and earned the two-goal lead. And then we just got into injury trouble. You lose a guy like Hedman for most of the game, we were getting tired back there and started making a few mistakes. Give Vegas credit, they made a big push, but our goalie was there when we needed him and that’s a big win in a tough spot on the road.”

The Bolts, 3-0-1 on their current road trip, play at Arizona tonight. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

“We’re winning different ways," said defenseman Dan Girardi. "Obviously, it wasn’t the third period you envision but we found a way to block some shots, Vasy made some big saves. Maybe limit the turnovers a little bit, that probably would have helped but it’s going to happen in a game. That’s a really good hockey team. They were a Stanley Cup finalist for a reason. We’ll take the two points. It’s a hard building to play in. Obviously very exciting and fun to play in but we’re going to take these two points and go to Arizona.”





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