The Tampa Bay Lightning (20-6-4) defeated the Vegas Golden Knights (20-12) by a score of 4-3 on Tuesday night. This snaps the Golden Knight’s five-game winning streak and is the last game for the team before the holiday break. With the NHL on pause, the team is still tied for first in Western Conference and Pacific Division standings.
Despite ten games initially scheduled, this game was the only game that was played in the NHL on Tuesday night. The NHL has been battling with COVID-19 issues and as a result, have extended their Christmas break which will start on Wednesday. The Golden Knights game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings will be rescheduled due to this.
This has also affected the NHL’s decision on attending the 2022 Winter Olympics as the league has officially dropped out of the 2022 games in Beijing.
Prior to puck drop, the Golden Knights placed both Evgenii Dadonov and Alex Pietrangelo in COVID-19 protocols. Robin Lehner and Nicolas Hague also missed Tuesday’s game with injuries. Logan Thompson backed up Laurent Brossoit and Daniil Miromanov got the call up on defense. The Lightning were also without head coach Jon Cooper due to COVID-19 protocols.
Entering the game the Lightning had not played since last Thursday, again due to COVI-19 issues within the NHL. This was evident in the first period as the Golden Knights were the far better team and led in shots 17-5 after one.
However, the Golden Knights found themselves down by one to start the game. In the Golden Knight’s defensive zone, Mikhael Sergachev forced Michael Amadio to turnover the puck. He then fed Gabriel Fortier who scored blocker-side on Brossoit for his first-career NHL goal.
Also in the first period, Mark Stone ran into Matthieu Joseph after attempting to steal the puck from him as Stone does. But Stone was shaken up after the collision and crawled to the bench. He would later leave the game in the second period, that is, after he scored two goals.
The first of Stone’s goals came on the powerplay after Correy Perry tripped up William Karlsson. In a bit of a reverse fashion play, it was Max Pacioretty who set up Stone on the doorstep for a goal. The Golden Knights have now scored a powerplay goal in six of their last seven games.
Chandler Stephenson took a delay of a game penalty late in the first period and 1:23 seconds carried over to the second period. After the Golden Knights killed the penalty Stephenson and Stone worked a give-and-go in the offensive zone.
Stephenson drew three Lightning players towards him and the Lightning completely forgot about Stone, who received the pass from Stephenson and scored his second goal of the game.
The Golden Knights continued their pressure and were the far better team for the first half of the game. Reilly Smith and the misfit line had yet another strong game. Smith finished the night with seven shots on goals but was unable to break end his now ten-game scoreless drought.
Another member of the misfit line in Jonathan Marchessault ripped a shot up high on Andrei Vasilevskiy which broke his mask. While Vasilevskiy was waiting for his mask to be fixed the Lightning took a timeout and also put Brian Elliott in the game.
Elliott played a whopping five seconds as Sergachev stopped the clock as soon as he could to get the Vezina-winning, Playoff MVP, and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Vasilevskiy back in the net as soon as possible.
But even Vasilevskiy could not stop Nicolas Roy, who turned into Connor McDavid and dangled through three Lightning players, including Victor Hedman of all people. Roy and his slick mitts lit the lamp for the Golden Knights and the team led 3-1.
An electric goal, against the Lightning nonetheless.
Hockey world, meet Nicolas Roy's hands 🤩 pic.twitter.com/XrjjVhfaCe
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 22, 2021
The Golden Knights seemed to be in complete control with a two-goal lead midway through the second. But the Lightning were able to claw their way back into the game with two big goals. Former Golden Knight Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored in the slot, and former Erie Otter Anthony Cirelli scored off a rebound chance.
It was also around this time when captain Mark Stone left the game and did not return for the Golden Knights.
In the third period, Stephenson snuck around the Lightning’s defense with a burst of speed and got a nice backhanded chance. Sergachev blew a tire trying to stop him. But Vasilevskiy once again made the save. He finished the game with 29 saves on 41 shots.
Marchessault took a hooking call on Steven Stamkos and Stamkos made him pay. With four seconds left on the penalty, Stamkos fired home a power-play goal from his office and the Lightning took the lead 4-3.
The Golden Knights failed to score on their only powerplay chance in the period. There was potential for another Golden Knights powerplay opportunity as Alex Killorn swept Ben Hutton off his feet, but not in a romantic way. However, the play was not called.
Brossoit was pulled around the two-minute mark and head coach Peter DeBoer used his timeout with 37 seconds left. A later chance from the misfit line and Pacioretty would not go and the Golden Knights ran out of time. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the game 4-3.
With the aforementioned changes to the NHL’s schedule, the Golden Knights will have five days off for the holiday break. They are scheduled to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, December 27th at home at 7:00 pm.
Vegas Hockey Now’s Player of the Game: Brian Elliott because hehe.