Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) congratulates left wing Brandon Hagel (38) for his goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey preseason game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Tampa Bay Lightning Strike Down Canadiens 5-3

From winning to breaking records, sports are all about firsts. On Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning proved exactly why that saying exists.

Matt Tomkins Makes History

After heading north, the Lightning took care of business at the Centre Bell arena by beating the Canadiens 5-3 to move to a record of 6-3-4.

But this was not just a regular Tampa win. The victory marked the first career win of 29-year-old goaltender Matt Tomkins. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native was drafted in the seventh round in 2012. He is now ranked fourth all-time in the longest span between draft year and first NHL win for goalies.

In the win against Montreal, Tomkins had 26 shots come his way and saved 23 of them.

Prior to his NHL start, the goalie made several stops along the way. After getting drafted, he played four years of college hockey at Ohio State University. Then he played for both the Rockford IceHogs and Indy Fuel from 2017 to 2021. He would then embark on two one-year stints by joining Frölunda HC in 2021 and playing for Färjestad BK in 2022. 

At the conclusion of the game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper was in awe of how the storybook journey unfolded.

“What a thrill,” Cooper said. “If you were going to draw it up, I’m not sure you can draw it up any better than getting to play in the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.”

Early Lightning Strike

After losing and scoring late against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 2, the Lightning made sure to score quicker than their name suggests.

In just 22 seconds, Nikita Kucherov hit an absolute laser to the top right corner of the goal. The right winger is now tied second in the league in goals with 12 and leads the league with his 22 points.

Shortly after, Tampa would open the flood gates with a goal by Nicholas Paul at the 7:15 mark assisted by Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

Then, nine minutes into the contest, Alex-Barre-Boulet would add fuel to the fire by scoring his fourth of the season. Brandon Hagel and Mikhail Sergachev were there for the assists.

If three was not enough for one period, Michael Eyssimont did not concur.

The Canadiens would get on the board in the third period with three goals by Nick Suzuki, Michael Pezzetta and Christian Dvorak. But Paul would shut down the run with his second goal of the night.

Up Next

Tampa will head back down to host the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday at 7 p.m.

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