The Quest for the Threepeat

On Tuesday Oct 13, 2021, the Tampa Bay Lightning started their season off 

against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Compared to last season’s small audiences due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Lightning’s opening night, sold out crowd was practically electric.

“It was really special, the first time around we didn’t have any fans in 

the stands, but this time around we have fans in the stands,” said forward Pat Maroon. 

The night started with the 2020-2021 Stanley Cup Champion banner being raised. The atmosphere in the arena was amazing while celebrating last year’s championship before the puck drop, however when the game started everything changed.

The first period ended as 0-0 with the Penguins severely outplaying and outperforming the Lightning despite missing stars Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. 

“We said it before the game, we were extremely excited to have that ceremony, but then we had to flip the page because it was truly the end of last year… We didn’t flip the page I guess,” said captain Steven Stamkos.

The Lightning came out slowly in the second period, letting up two weak goals. The first came from a turnover from star goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy. The second goal came from a weak shot that went through Vasilevskiy’s legs, also known as his five hole. There would be two penalties from both teams, however neither team were able to capitalize on the power plays. The second period ended being 2-0 with the Lightning being down, and the fan atmosphere being silent. 

“In the end they beat us to every puck, they worked harder than us, they were better than us in every facet of the game,” said head coach John Cooper.

The third period started with a goal from the Penguins to go up 3-0. This period saw newly reassigned coach, Jon Cooper, pull some interesting tactics. While being down 3-0 with six minutes left in the period, Cooper pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy in order to get an extra skater. The Lightning would soon score their first goal of the season with a goal from Anthony Cirelli to make the score 3-1. However Cooper didn’t put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in goal and the Penguins Vasilevskiy off the ice and the Lightning responded with a goal making it 4-2. However, the Penguins would shortly put the game out of reach with two empty net goals. Leading to a final score of 6-2.

“At the end of the day, we just have to execute better. It was the first game of the season so there should be rust, however right now we’re looking to pick up some wins in our next few games,” said Cooper.

The Lightning have won the last 2 games since the season opener against the Detroit Redwings and the Washington Capitals. The bolts are on their way to cement themselves in hockey history.