Bolts are powerless in loss to Panthers

by Gary Shelton on October 20, 2021

in general

Stamkos goes flying headlong after chance./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Now that Nikita Kucherov has limped away -- for the immediate future, at least -- a question remains:

Did he take the power of the Tampa Bay Lightning with him?

The Lightning, playing their first game without the injured Kucherov, sputtered and fizzled in a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. The Bolts were 0-for-six on the power play, including a five-on-three in the first period.

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The Bolts tied the game in the third period at 1-1, but that tie lasted just 65 seconds before the Panthers scored again, then won going away.

"You don't usually win too many games when you don’t capitalize on a five on three, especially for that amount of time," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. "It's no secret we’re missing one of the best power-play guys on the planet right now. We’ve got to work some things out. We’re not panicking over it, but it’s going to take some time to adjust. We did it last year but we had some time to prepare .

"Special teams were huge. Five-on-five, we played a really good game and had chances. But when you go o-fer with that many chances, it’s a little frustrating."

Kucherov, who has a lower body injury, missed all of last regular season but returned for the playoffs.

"We’re missing Kuch," said Brayden Point, who scored the Bolts only goal. "He's one  of he best half-wall guys in the game. Our power play goes through him.  We had a lot of chances but no looks."

The Bolts are 2-2 in the young season, and they've yet to have a lead in regulation.

"It’s going to be a work in progress," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He’s a big part of our team, and a big part of that aspect of our team. Tonight that was the difference in the game. We had our chances. You get a 5x3 and don’t score, it can be trouble for you."

The Bolts don't play again until Saturday night, when they are home at Amalie Arena to play the Colorado Avalanche. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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