By Josephy Henry
Lightning forward Corey Perry skated to the bench late in the second period trying to downplay the grin on his face. The 16-year veteran lurked below the goal line as Tampa Bay sent out an extra skater with a delayed penalty called.
As Perry quickly curled around the net, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos whipped a pass right on his tape. The two-time Olympic gold medalist went top shelf on Philadelphia goaltender Carter Hart to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0.
“There's obviously a little frustration, but I'm not going to show it,” Perry said. “You just keep coming to the rink with a smile on your face and put in the work and good things are going to happen."
The goal solidified Tampa Bay’s momentum and was Perry’s first as a member of the Lightning.
“[Perry] has had a ton of scoring chances,” Stamkos said. “You know, eventually with a player that has a set of hands that he does around the net they are eventually gonna go in.”
Just last season Perry was facing the Bolts in the Stanley Cup Finals as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Now, he is scoring under the banner his former team couldn’t raise.
Tampa Bay (11-4-3) defeated the Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-3) 4-0 on Tuesday behind a 34 save shutout from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, his first of the season.
The Lightning skated on short rest against the Flyers. Just two days ago they squeaked out a highly contested game with the Minnesota Wild. Stamkos scored the only shootout goal and goalie Brian Elliott made three clutch saves to secure the 5-4 Lightning win.
2:28 into Tuesday’s game Tampa Bay defenseman Zach Bogosian drifted near the point, stick down and ready to snipe. Fellow defenseman Mikhail Sergachev tossed the puck over as Bogosian loaded up. The right-hander made pure contact and drilled his shot into the left post. The loud ding cued the goal horn as the Lightning took the early lead.
From puck drop the Flyers had the jump on a sluggish Tampa Bay squad. Through the opening 20 minutes Philadelphia put 12 shots on Vasilevskiy. The Lightning netminder made all the saves necessary to shut the Flyers off the scoreboard.
“They had a puck a lot in the first, but I think we only had them for two scoring chance,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. “We weren't commanding the puck. We were trying to take the easy route and it wasn't working for us.”
As the clock dwindled down on the first period Sergachev skated in his defensive zone. He inadvertently lifted the puck over the side glass and was called for a delay of game. The Flyers claimed the first power play, serving 12.9 seconds in the first period and the remainder of the two-minute minor during the second.
When Tampa Bay came out for the middle period it looked reenergized.
The Lightning killed of Philadelphia’s power play with ease and channeled that into momentum. The offensive attack found some aggression and began crashing the net. It wasn’t long until this paid off.
Stamkos was the beneficiary of a minute-long barrage by Tampa Bay. Hart was stopping everything the Lightning threw his way, but eventually he was worn down. Tampa Bay’s captain snuck a shot behind the goalies back to extend the Lightning lead to two. Bogosian earned his second point of the night with an assist on Stamkos’ team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Hart was suspect between the post throughout the remainder of the game. His final goal allowed came when Stamkos decisively won a faceoff back to Lightning center Alex Barre-Boulet. The rookie shot right over Hart’s shoulder from the point, giving Tampa Bay a four-goal advantage in the third period.
The 23-year-old goalie put forth a valiant effort against a hungry Tampa Bay offense. Hart made 31 saves, but the performance was overshadowed by Vasilevskiy.
“He’s exceptional,” said Cooper about Vasilevskiy. “The mental side of things for him, that is what has come so far. There’s nobody you’d rather have back there than him.”
My Stars of the Game:
First: Andrei Vasilevskiy, 34 saves and a 1.000 save percentage. First shutout of the season.
Second: Steven Stamkos, one goal and two assists.
Third: Corey Perry, one goal. First goal of the season and first with the Lightning
Tampa Bay gets its first ever meeting with the Seattle Kraken on Friday night at Amalie Arena. Former Lightning center Yanni Gourde will make his highly anticipated return to Tampa when that game begins at 7:00 p.m.
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