Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning won't be able to nickel and dime their way into the playoffs.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 20 shots before surrendering goals to 1 of 2 shooters for the SO loss. Hedman absolutely hung him out to dry with a bad pass off the end boards that ricocheted out in front on an innocuous play for an easy Erat tap in, and that ended up making a big difference in the game.
11:26 TB Johnson (20), (Palat, Brewer)(SH)
1:01 PHX McMillan (2), (Yandle, Doan)
19:07 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Aulie)
2:13 PHX Erat (2), (unassisted)
7:48 PHX Boedker (16), (Vermette, Michalek)
19:22 TB Palat (17), (Filppula, Carle)
Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars. Their line (along with Filppula) and the Pyatt line were good tonight. It's just a shame that Palat, Filppula, and Callahan came up dry in the shootout.
With all that said, 25 minutes of hockey isn't good enough. The team played a very good First Period, sleepwalked through the Second and most of the Third, and only woke up once they fell behind 3-2. They salvaged a point, but that wasn't good enough. With the spot they are in, they need 2's, not 1's. Period. Urgency needs to be there right now, and it hasn't always been on display.
Mike Kostka had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:13 of service with Gudas out and Salo leaving the game in the First Period. He nearly set up Palat for a OT GWG and a hat trick with a point shot that left a nice rebound. Good decision-making on that play.
Lightning steal a point, but may have left one on the ice.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 32 shots before allowing 1 of 7 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO Loss. It's not a dreadful stat line, however, the Boychuk goal that allowed Boston to tie the game in the Third Period was almost as dreadful as the Erik Johnson GWG Bishop allowed that cost the team the Colorado game. It's a heck of a time for Bishop to look mortal, and you can now legitimately say 2 points were left on the table in Bishop's last 2 starts because of inopportune soft goals.
0:27 TB Palat (15), (Johnson, Brewer)(SH)
4:13 TB Barberio (5), (Pyatt, Callahan)
6:58 BOS Paille (9), (Campbell, Boychuk)
8:29 BOS Soderberg (11), (Kelly)
9:31 TB Filppula (21), (Palat)
8:11 BOS Boychuk (3), (Soderberg, Eriksson)
Ondrej Palat was the game's third star. He got the opportunity to play with Valtteri Filppula tonight after playing with the reunited Palat/Johnson/Panik line against Buffalo. Whether he sticks with Filppula permanently or not, I'm glad to see Palat do well tonight. One of my concerns after seeing St. Louis dealt was whether or not Palat's scoring would fall of the table given how much chemistry those two had. I'm glad to see him get a multi-point game tonight and show that he can keep being productive.
Overall, I guess you can look at this result a couple of different ways. Going in against a team the Lightning aren't built for and getting outshot 32-20, certainly the team should be thrilled to sneak a point out. On the other hand, it's another game where the Lightning had a 2-0 lead, and another game where they had a lead in the Third Period and they didn't get a "W", and it's really hurting their playoff chances badly.
Richard Panik was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 11:29. He hit a post on his shootout attempt, which is a shame, because a winner would've done boatloads for his confidence. Tonight's game graduated Panik from prospect status on the website.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the loss. I didn't consider any of the 3 goals weak ones, but again, you want your goaltender to help you keep contact in a close game like that and Lindback doesn't.
15:56 BUF Myers (9), (unassisted)
9:25 BUF Foligno (7), (Hodgson, Myers)
13:44 BUF Hodgson (16), (Foligno)
17:31 TB Johnson (19), (Hedman)
Tonight's result was not for a lack of effort, shots, or chances. They outshot Buffalo 44-21, which is amazing considering how low the Lightning's shot totals were on the last roadtrip. They came out with a lot of adrenaline flowing and put a ton of pressure on the Sabres. It led to them getting a little loose defensively and some stupid turnovers like the thing Mark Barberio did on Buffalo's first goal, but for the most part I can't be mad at what I saw. They dominated the faceoff circles. They dominated possession. In his return and wearing the "C" for the first time, Steven Stamkos had at least 3 chances he'd probably have potted were it not for needing to shake off a little rust. In the end, though, Jhonas Enroth stood on his head at a very inopportune time with the Lightning's playoff chances starting to head south.
Mike Kostka had 7 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:57. Yes, it's the Sabres, but you have to be encouraged at how well he filled in with Gudas out of the lineup and how active he was offensively.
Richard Panik had 1 hit in 13:12. The stats don't tell the tale. He was a lot stronger and more confident on the puck than he was before his demotion to Syracuse. He's now 1 game away from graduation from prospect status on the website.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 13:52. He failed to convert 2 breakaways and you can see how distraught he was at the bench. He's probably never faced a scoring slump like this in his life. He also is 1 game away from graduation from prospect status on the site.
Tomorrow's a big day.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. Hard to be upset with Ben when the team in front of him allows the Blues to stickhandle at will through the slot.
7:08 TB Killorn (15), (Purcell)
14:49 TB Johnson (18), (St Louis, Hedman)(PP)
3:32 STL Berglund (11), (Schwartz, Tarasenko)
17:04 STL Oshie (15), (Steen, Pietrangelo)(SH)
3:47 STL Steen (29), (Backes, Oshie)
19:21 STL Tarasenko (19), (Backes, Schwartz)(EN)
I'm not even going to look at the standings right now, because it's irrelevant if the Lightning don't fix what they're doing right now. On the one hand, they had 2-0 leads in 3 of the 4 games of this road trip and had a 1 goal lead going into the Third Period of the other. So, they manufactured situations on the road where they should have been able to get a fair number of points. That said, the defensive zone coverage looks like a dumpster fire and that contributes to the Lightning's pretty poor possession performance on this road trip. That manifested itself in the form of just 17 shots tonight. You can't win that way.
Tomorrow's a huge day. It's trade deadline day, obviously, and the gigantic hole in the Lightning's defense has never been more obvious. Radko Gudas' play has tailed off the past couple of months and with Gudas hurt tonight, the situation got even worse. I'm of the opinion it's management malpractice if Steve Yzerman doesn't at least get an established bottom pair NHL defenseman tomorrow who can fill in on the second pair on nights like tonight when one of the top-4 are out hurt. Ideally, he'd get a legit top-4 who can also give the Lightning's shaky PK a backbone.
Also, Steve Yzerman has another doctor's visit with a view toward being cleared for Thursday night. The PP tonight actually looked decent until they absolutely wet the bed on Oshie's SH goal. But, in general it's been poor, and Stamkos should go a long way to fix that. As he settles back in, hopefully he'll also give the Lightning the not-so-secret weapon of being able to get a great individual effort goal at opportune times. They could've used that tonight after falling behind 3-2.
Nikita Kucherov had 1 shot in 10:45. Honestly, that might've been the least noticeable he's been in a game all season. He is now just 2 games from graduation from prospect status on the site.
Lightning leave another 2 points out on the road.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss. No way to sugar coat it: he let the team down tonight. The GWG by Erik Johnson is a softie that simply cannot happen at that juncture of the game. Ever. Certainly it's outside of the norm for Ben this season, but that's frustrating.
16:49 TB Pyatt (2), (Purcell, Salo)
17:19 COL Barrie (8), (Stastny, MacKinnon)
19:01 COL O'Reilly (23), (Parenteau, Duchene)
6:40 TB Thompson (7), (Kostka, Carle)
17:37 TB Thompson (8), (Kostka)
5:12 COL Holden (5), (O'Reilly, Duchene)(PP)
16:05 COL Johnson (8), (unassisted)
19:06 COL Holden (6), (Talbot)(EN)
19:53 COL Stastny (19), (MacKinnon, Landeskog)(EN)
That's upsetting. That's 3-4 points, between this game and the Nashville game, that the Lightning could've easily had that they squandered. Take a look at the standings and you'll see that's the difference between the current 5 point lead on the last team out of the playoffs and an 8-9 point cushion. That's a big, big difference. Self-inflicted sloppiness and bad goaltending dealt the fatal wounds tonight. I didn't think they had a great chance coming into this game with Filppula not returning, but they put themselves in position to win and they should've gotten not less than a point out of this one. That hurts.
Mike Kostka had 2 assists and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 12:11. Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 with 3 shot and 1 hit and he was 55% on draws in 8:40. I'm shocked to see he only had 8:40 of ice time, as that was a very active 8:40 of ice time with multiple scoring opportunities and some very active work in the offensive zone. He's really settled in now, although that might be all for nothing because with Filppula and Stamkos coming back this week, it's no secret Vladdy's probably going back down.
Nikita Kucherov was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:35. He had the tying goal on his stick on the PP down 4-3 off a glorious setup from Marty and he shot it wide. He's missing these critical chances by fractions of inches in key times, and I'm starting to worry about his psyche, because his confidence level as a sniper is being seriously tested right now.