Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ottawa Senators 1 at Tampa Bay Lightning 4 - November 29, 2014

After a quick drive downtown from the USF Sun Dome, I made my way over to Amalie Arena, the former St. Pete Times Forum that I visited in 2010 to see the Leafs lose. Amalie is a motor oil company that bought the naming rights earlier this year, leading to many confused hockey fans wondering why a French movie was advertising in Tampa.

Free parking can be found on the street a few blocks north of the arena, which lies on the southern edge of downtown Tampa. You will also find a few scalpers on the way, and you should be able to haggle them down. The cheapest seat at the box office was $21 for this game. Upon entering, I did my usual tour and was happy to find a standing area in each corner of the lower concourse. These areas are open to all fans and as I had purchased a seat in the second-to-last row of the upper deck, I decided to stake out a spot here instead, for an obstructed view as you see below. Sure, I had to stand for a couple of hours, but it is a great place to watch the game, although if you leave to grab something to eat, someone will likely take your spot. Many fans chose to stand here for one period, so you can always move here during an intermission.

Food here is terribly overpriced unless you are a full season ticket holder, which seems to net a 20% discount. I am not a season ticket holder, so was about to forgo any sustenance when I happened upon a "gourmet" grilled cheese stand that had a regular sandwich for just $4. Even better, it is made while you wait, and even comes with a few potato chips. Truly one of the better bargains in the league I am sure and served well as my dinner.

My hometown Ottawa Senators, led by captain Erik Karlsson (above), were in town, fresh off a disappointing loss to the Florida Panthers the night before. As a Toronto fan, I am contractually obliged to hate Ottawa, so I was certainly cheering for the Lightning, who came out wearing their third jersey, which is black with white trim and reads "Bolts", as you can see below in the enormous scoreboard.

Despite having played the night before, the Sens came out with some jump and had a number of chances that were turned away by Ben Bishop. Eventually Tampa Bay took a penalty and David Legwand (below, playing in his 1000th career NHL game) scored on the power play to open the scoring.

The Lightning got that back in the second period when Steve Stamkos and Ryan Callahan broke out on a 2-on-1. Callahan tipped a perfect Stamkos pass over a helpless Robin Lehner and we entered the third knotted at a goal apiece. This is when the long road trip caught up with Ottawa, who had played in Detroit and St. Louis earlier in the week as well (not to mention a west coast trip the previous week). Tampa Bay's top line of Stamkos, Callahan and Alex Killorn again provided the firepower as as Killorn tipped home a point shot from Anton Stralman just 1:16 in. Ottawa was clearly tired, and the Lightning's strong forecheck resulted in Brendan Morrow adding his first as a member of the Lightning just after the eight-minute mark to double the lead, with Nikita Kucherov closing out the scoring on another deflection six minutes from time.

The shot total flatters Ottawa, who were not really in this once the third period started. A relatively dull game but the local fans went home happy.


This was my fifth NHL game this season and the one with the most goals after a 2-1 game in Boston, 1-1 in MSG, and two 1-0 games in Detroit and Jersey.



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