Saturday, 3 a.m.
One step up, a few steps back.
The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their season-long disappointment Friday night, losing a 3-1 game to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bolts found some early energy because of the jersey retirement of Marty St. Louis. But St. Louis might have helped the team more if he had been in uniform.
The Bolts got off a season-high 19 goals in the first period, and took a 1-0 lead, but couldn't hang on. After Ben Bishop successfully returned to the goal Thursday night,
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Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to the net. He stopped 28 shots, but it wasn't quite good enough.
It's been a pattern for the Bolts. Every now and then, they'll win a game that looks like the start of something. And then...nothing.
"We had a good first period, you know, and then it was pretty ordinary after that,” said Brian Boyle of the Lightning. “You know (Alex Killorn) stands in there and does a great job, fighting is something he doesn’t do a whole lot of. The power play after that wasn’t good enough. I think we kind of lost momentum there, and after that we just weren’t quite as good as we were in the first.
"Results are really all that matters, and we’re working at it. They’re certainly not blowouts, but I mean we're not setting the bar that low. We need to change our attitude a little bit and kind of find our mojo and carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence and know that we can score quick goals, we can come from behind and we can jump out to leads.”
Cooper pointed out the Columbus is the top team in the league at 29-8-4. The Bolts, 20-20-4, are only 23rd.
"First of all, they’ve got a really good team. They reeled off 16 in a row for a good reason,” Cooper said. “It’s too bad that we only had the 1-0 lead (after the first period). I thought we deserved a little bit better fate. I thought we played well. It was just tough for our guys to sustain it. They turned up their game a notch. We tried, it was just a little tougher for us to get the inside after a while and we weren’t getting our shots through. It was a little bit of bad breaks. We had a tough turnover there on the first one, but, ultimately, it’s a wide shot by 20 foot that goes off our back, lands in front and it’s 1-1. And then ultimately, it came down to special teams. They got the big goal on the power play, and we couldn’t kill it off. And then we couldn’t get the power-play goal when we needed it at the end.”
The Bolts now have to survive a six-game road trip, all while trying to fight their way back into contention.
"I thought we started the right way in the first,” Drouin said. “We were skating, we were dictating the play but we sold out a bit in the second and gave them a couple of chances and you know a team like that, who’s been hot all season, you can’t let down and I think we did that in the second.
"We just maybe let them play a little too much and we stopped forechecking. We were forechecking in the first, and it paid off. "
The Lightning fell to 1-4-1 on the season when playing the second game of back-to-backs.
"This was a tough back-to-back for us,” Cooper said. “We had a strong game last night and we came out and played well enough to win this hockey game. Again, it came down to special teams. Our special teams, especially on power play, has been pretty good all year, and we needed the big kill at the end and we didn’t get it. Ultimately, that’s what we needed. Because really, if (they) don’t get the power-play goal, it’s still tied. We needed to kill it off, and we didn’t.”
The Bolts open their road trip Monday afternoon in Los Angeles.