TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning are long noted for consistency of being positioned to make the kill or the goal needed to stoke another victory in the ‘W” column.
That’s when Lightning center Anthony Cirelli came to the dance when he pushed in a puck off of a pass by Brayden Point for the game-deciding goal at 8:05 in the third period for the 3-2 lead.
“We wanted to get a lot of shots on net and create a lot of traffic,” explained Cirelli. “They’re all not going to be pretty. We got three grinding goals and we got them the right way.”
Point slid the puck under the outstretched stick of Jonas Siegenthaler to Cirelli who is on the top of the crease. Cirelli then pushed the puck by goalie John Gillies for a 3-2 Lightning advantage. It was Cirelli’s 12th goal of the season. Point and Ondrej Palat pick up the assists. as It was Point’s 20th point in his last 13 games vs. the Devils (7 goals/13 assists).
It made up for earlier when Gilles made a stellar play in goal on a penalty shot by Cirelli where the Lightning forward deeked left and went right and then Gilles spoiled the play with a sprawling save off of his knee pad.
“I tried to make him move and he just made a great play,” said Cirelli.
New Jersey’s Jack Hughes had just tied the game at 2-2 just one minute earlier when he drove home a rebound off the left side.
Tampa Bay took the upper hand in the second period. Trailing 1-0 after Damon Stevenson blasted a power-play goal through traffic for a 1-0 Devils’ lead after the first period, Lightning defenseman Alex Killorn scored his 40th point on a power-play goal to tie the contest at 1-1
He netted the puck on the rebound and in the crease as Hedman and Stamkos both assisted at 1:46. With the score, the Lightning had a power-play marker in six of their last seven games.
Killorn now has six seasons when scoring 40 points or more while it was Hedman’s 36th assist of the season as he is one point behind New York defenseman Adam Fox (46) for the most points for NHL defensemen on the season.
Matthieu Joseph would then break the tie at 14:16 as he fired in his second shorthanded goal of the season to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead as Tampa Bay was working to kill a four-minute power play after Jan Ruuta was assessed the penalty for high-sticking.
“Whenever you could kill off a four-minute power play and Jo gets one there too, it’s huge and gives momentum going in the right way,” Cirelli said.
Joseph connected on his second short-handed goal of the season as he is becoming a key piece to the Tampa Bay penalty kill. He sped up the right side of the ice and deposited the puck to tie the game.
“He is so quick and so fast out there, he gets on pucks,” said Cirelli. “He creates turnovers. Once he gets that turnover he is gone.”
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 outings at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay came in with 61 points, two behind the Florida Panthers in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay is 7-2-0 vs. the Devils in the last nine games in Amalie Arena.