Lightning’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare drives fourth-line heroics

TAMPA BAY, FL – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare didn’t want to give himself too much credit following the Lightning’s 4-1 win over the Kraken Monday afternoon in Seattle.

Locked in a tight-checking game with not many scoring opportunities, Tampa Bay’s top offensive threats were quiet and the Lightning needed a jolt from their bottom two lines.

Bellemare doesn’t score much. His job is to center a fourth line focused on playing a heavy game and possessing the puck, winning faceoffs and being an anchor on the penalty kill.

But in a game like Monday’s, where Tampa Bay had to find its offensive game from somewhere other than its top-six forwards, Bellemare made sure he was in the right place at the right time.

In a first period that saw the Lightning make 25 shot attempts (15 on goal), they were sustaining zone time and pressuring the net. But it wasn’t until Bellemare deflected an Ian Cole shot past goaltender Philipp Grubauer with 1:17 left in the period that the Lightning were rewarded with a goal, the game’s only tally in the first two periods.

“It’s depth,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And that’s the difference with some teams. When you have some depth, it helps you win some hockey games, and in a game like (Monday’s), when (Nikita Kucherov) or (Steven Stamkos) or (Brayden Point) isn’t getting one, you need somebody like ‘Belly’ to get it for you, and it turns out to be a big one for us.”