The Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a visit to Los Angeles to face the Kings. Tampa Bay came out on the right side of a 2-1 score in the process. Tyler Johnson and Brian Boyle scored goals and Ben Bishop put together a 31-save performance for the Lightning. The Kings got a goal from Kyle Clifford but dropped their first game in their last three contests.
Both teams were without a star player on Saturday afternoon. Anze Kopitar for the Kings and Victor Hedman for the Lightning both missed the game due to an illness. It was the first time Hedman missed a game this season and the first time Kopitar has missed a game since Nov. 20.
Ben Bishop stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced and his teammates took notice. Forward Jonathan Drouin, who scored Tampa Bay’s first goal commented on Bishops’s play, via LA Kings Insider, “… he was huge. Kept us in the game. He’s been doing that for a lot of years now and when Bish is in we have a lot of confidence.”
The Kings fell to 3-3-0 through the first six games of their current seven-game homestand. The seven-game stretch ends when they host the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. After their game against San Jose, the Kings hit the road for their next five games.
The Lightning avoided losing a second consecutive game and won just their second game in their last seven by beating Los Angeles. Tampa Bay will play the Anaheim Ducks on the second leg of a back-to-back series on Tuesday night.
The two teams will conclude their season series on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena.
Between the two teams, the Kings’ Kyle Clifford had the most eventful first period. Just 1:19 into the first period, Clifford fought Tampa Bay’s Luke Witkowski. Clifford took a big hit from Witkowski in the defensive zone before he popped up and the two squared off.
While the two were in the box, Tampa Bay set the pace for much of the first eight minutes. They outshot Los Angeles 6-0 to start the game. Then Clifford found his way back onto to the scoresheet but in the goal column this time. The winger forced Bishop to misplay the puck behind Tampa Bay’s net and then beat Bishop back to the front of the net with a wrap-around for the game’s first goal. It was the first goal in the last 24 games for Clifford. It was the first shot and the first goal of the game for the Kings.
Los Angeles used Clifford’s goal and a power play opportunity to even out the play during the opening period and had tied the game at six shots apiece with 7:47 left in the period. But it was Tampa Bay who struck next.
With 5:27 left in the first period, Tyler Johnson took a Jonathan Drouin Pass on the back door and fired a one-time shot past Peter Budaj to knot the game at one.
After almost 19 minutes of play, it was Brian Boyle who gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. The former King picked up the puck behind Los Angeles’ net and bounced the puck off of Dustin Brown and past Budaj into the net. Budaj stopped Valtteri Filppula’s initial shot but the forward bounced another shout off of Budaj when Boyle grabbed the rebound and bounced the puck off of the netminder who was sprawled on his belly in the crease trying to make the save.
Both teams had power-play opportunities during the third period but were unable to capitalize while on the man advantage. Bishop made a point-blank save on Los Angeles’s Marian Gaborik with just 2:30 play to persevere the lead for Tampa Bay.
Despite out shooting the Lightning 11 to 5 in the final period of the game, the Kings were unable to tie the game and found themselves on the on the wrong side of 2-1 score when the final buzzer echoed through Staples Center.
LAK – Kyle Clifford (3) unassisted
TBL – Tyler Johnson (13) assisted by Jonathan Drouin (16) and Luke Witkowski (2)
TBL – Brian Boyle (11) assisted by Valtteri Filppula (22) and Nikita Kucherov (24)
THW Three Stars
First: Brian Boyle (1 goal)
Second: Ben Bishop (31 saves)
Third: Kyle Clifford (1 goal)
San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:30 p.m. PST on Wednesday, Jan. 18
Broadcast channels – NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series:
Oct. 12 – SJS 2 – LAK 1
Nov. 30 – SJS 4 – LAK 1
Dec. 31 LAK 3 – SJS 2
Jan 3. LAK 2 – SJS 1 (OT)
Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 7:00 p.m. PST on Tuesday, Jan. 17
Broadcast channels – PRIME, SUN
2016-17 Season Series:
First meeting of the season
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.