Lightning Ride Domingue, Johnson To Victory Against Carolina

In Domingue’s season debut, Tampa Bay gets a big performance

On Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning got 38 saves from Louis Domingue in backup work and a hat trick from Tyler Johnson to win 4-2 over The Carolina Panthers.

Carolina came in Tuesday night with a 4-1-1 record in a busy first two weeks of the season, one of the early surprises of the NHL slate. Center Jordan Staal has really been making his presence known this season, coming into the game with four goals and a pair of assists on the young season.

Much of the action could be summed up in three words: Tuesday Night Hockey. Something about the second night of the workweek seems to bring out the sloppiness in hockey players, and on both sides passes were missed and opportunities vanished along with them. Long passes for the Bolts turned into icing calls, while the Hurricanes struggled in the neutral zone. Those struggles cost them odd man rushes in the process.

It was sloppy defense on the part of the Lightning that allowed Micheal Ferland in alone on Louis Domingue, faking to the goalie’s right before shooting to his left to make the score 1-0.

From there, it was Tyler Johnson’s turn to take over the game at Amalie Arena. The Lightning skater scored a shorthanded goal in the first period to tie the score, then broke that tie in the second period when he got in through two Carolina defenders to get in alone on goalie Petr Mrazek to give Tampa Bay the lead. Carolina tied the game back up later in the second on Matin Necas’ first career NHL goal. Necas was part of a 3-on-1 opportunity that led to a one-timer that Domingue had almost no chance of getting to for the goal.

The 2-2 tie was broken in the third by, again the Triplets line of Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Yanni Gourde. This time it was Gourde lightning the lamp on the power play, Tampa Bay’s first of the night, on a textbook centering pass from Palat. Johnson added an empty-netter in the third, following a blocked shot and a great save by Domingue, to seal the game. The Lightning move to 3-1-0 on the season.

Domingue’s night

Lightning reserve goaltender Louis Domingue made his first start of the season for Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. The Lightning have big plans for Domingue, intending to feature him as many as 25 times this season in an effort to get more rest for Andrei Vasilevskiy, one of the busiest netminders in the 2017-18 season.

It was a tough night to be a backup goaltender. Carolina controlled a fair amount of the action and took a lot of shots, no small thing from a team that has proven as good at scoring as the Hurricanes have. Domingue was up to the task, racking up over thirty saves on the night.

Domingue surrendered a goal on Carolina’s fifth shot of the night, but it was not an easy play for a goalie. With Ferland in alone, it was nearly a penalty shot situation. That would be the only goal Carolina would score in the first period, on 12 shots. It was a heavy workload on Tuesday night for the Bolts’ second netminder.

Domingue’s second surrendered goal is also hard to fault him for. When a team gets in on the goaltender with numbers, it makes the goalie’s life harder than it needs to be, and on that play the Tampa Bay defense put their goalie in a near-impossible position.

In all, Tampa Bay’s second goaltender performed admirably against a stronger than average workload. He made a couple of big saves on the penalty kill in particular, the kind of saves that instill confidence in a team and allow them to worry less about suppressing shots and more about minimizing the quality of looks.

Penalty Kill watch

Tampa Bay’s penalty kill has been their biggest strength this early season after being their biggest weakness the last. After an Adam Erne tripping penalty, down 1-0, the Lightning turned the tide of the game. They allowed zero shots on the kill, and took two of their own. One of those two, taken by Tyler Johnson, got past goalie Petr Mrazek to even the game. It was the Lightning’s second shorthanded goal of the season, and watching it shows hockey fans just how they’re doing it.

One of the Lightning’s big advantages over opponents is their ability to outskate just about any team in the league. They have fast skaters on every single line, and can wear an opponent out that way. Skating can kill time on a penalty, and create shorthanded opportunities in the process. The Lightning have done both in good measure in their season-opening homestand.

In the end, Tampa Bay faced five penalties and killed every one of them. They have now burned off seventeen consecutive penalties to open the season, a remarkable feat in and of itself. Few teams on any level of hockey can say they have a positive goal differential while shorthanded, but the Lightning are such a team in the early going.

What’s next for Bolts

Tampa Bay’s season-opening homestand concludes on Thursday night at 7:30, with the Detroit Red Wings in town to visit. It has been a rough start for Detroit, and many hockey prognosticators see the season being a long one in the place they call Hockeytown.

Detroit has lost its last two games by a combined total of 15-5. They have surrendered 29 goals already on the season, allowing more than five per game. The Lightning, already a high powered offensive force, should be looking to score perhaps even more than usual on Thursday night.

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Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.