Lightning falls in overtime to New Jersey

by Gary Shelton on October 18, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov has scored in eight straight games./JEFFREY S. KING

Kucherov has scored in eight consecutivet games./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 2 a.m.

Now that the winning streak is over, the Tampa Bay Lightning can continue its search.

Somewhere out there, a complete game is waiting.

After suffering its second loss of the year, a 5-4 decision to New Jersey in a shootout, the Lightning can concentrate on the number of goals it has surrendered, and the number of leads. The Bolts continue to score plenty – Nikita Kucherov scored again – but it could use cleaning up its defense.

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Stamkos scored his second goal of the season./ANDREW KRAMER

Stamkos scored his second goal of the season./ANDREW KRAMER

“You have to remember, this is 82 games,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “The one thing, this team gives you an honest effort. They bring the lunch pail to work every day, and it’s fun to watch them. Yeah, are there parts of our game we could tighten up? There’s no question. The guys are working at it. I look at this team now compared to where we were just two weeks ago and I like the trajectory we’re going on. So, we’ll just keep building from there.”

Tampa Bay fell behind 1-0, then took the lead on goals by Vladimir Namestnikov and Ondrej Palat. New Jersey came back to take a 3-2 lead by the end of the first period. Steven Stamkos and Kucherov both scored in the second period to give the Bolts a 4-3 lead.

For Kucherov, it was the eighth straight game in which he has scored a goal. Kucherov is one of just two players in the last 30 years in the NHL to score a goal in eight consecutive games to start a season, joining Mario Lemieux, who scored in 12 straight to open the 1992-93 season.

For the Bolts, Peter Budaj played in goal for the first time this season.

“It’s always tough on a guy when you, it’s the gamble you take when you don’t play a guy for a while,” Cooper said. “But the big thing for me is how he responded. I’m sure he wants to have that first (goal) back, but he made some big saves for us when we needed them. Once it gets to a shootout, that was it.”

Cooper was asked if his team palyed too loose in the first period.

“I’m not sure,” Cooper said. “You’re seeing some of these teams for the first time. New Jersey’s got a fast team. We’re coming off a back-to-back, and it took us a little bit to get going. But I thought by the third period, we turned the tables a little bit and were taking it to them. Ultimately, I look at this big picture and say we got three out of four points. I’m pretty happy with the way things went.”

The Bolts failed to capitalize on late power plays.

“You can look at the tale of two games. You can sit here and say we had our chances to score on the power play at the end, but I’m pretty proud of the way we responded after the first period and what had happened to us a little bit. I liked a lot about what happened in this game. The boys are competing hard. You’ve got to look at these back-to-backs, and you’ve got to munch the points. Yes, can you look at it now and say, ‘Hey, it would have been great to get two?’ Yeah, for sure, but we took three of four and now it just puts the onus on us to get some points in Columbus.”

The Lightning finishes its road trip with a game against the Blue Devils in Columbus Thursday night. The game begins at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

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