Another bad start as Bolts are humbled

by Gary Shelton on March 9, 2022

in general

Maroon not happy with performance./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

The sluggish starts are a continuing problem. The Tampa Bay Lightning begins each game as of late as if they are lost, wandering around, playing chase.

The horrible finish? That’s something new.

The Lightning were humbled on Tuesday night by a bad Winnipeg team, losing 7-4. They weren’t into it early, and they couldn’t keep up late Overall, it was a game that left a team talking to itself.

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“As players, it’s on us,” said forward Pat Maroon. “We need to take full responsibility for it. It’s out of control now. It’s hurting us. We’re down 3-1 10 minutes into the game. It’s unacceptable, especially  for a team that’s had success playing the right way. It’s frustrating to watch it. We’re tired of seeing it, but we keep doing the  same things. When is enough enough? We've got to respond somehow.

"We're not competing. We're shooting ourselves in the foot."

The Bolts have been able to overcome a lot of their bad starts against mediocre teams. But the Jets refocused and dominated the third period, too.

“It’s been going on for a little while now,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Probably since the outdoor game. Teams have basically let us off the hook or our goalie has bailed us out. No question we’re in a funk right now. Everyone has to dig in a little deeper and get ourselves out of it. Our starts are concerning, no question. Do we hit the panic button? No. We haven't played our best. Is it going to last forever? No.”

The Bolts scored enough — they had goals from Ryan McDonagh, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman and Ross Colton — but they didn’t play solid enough defense. The third period was hurt when they gave up a short-handed goal and two empty-netters.

“How many times in a row have we started behind in a game and had to claw ourselves back?” asked McDonagh. “It’s not winning hockey. We need to take a good look at ourselves and get ourselves mentally engaged. If you look at their goals tonight, they were from  2-3  feet in front of (Andrei Vasilevskiy). We weren’t strong enough in front of Vasy. We didn’t play hard enough and we paid the price.”

The Lightning continues its road trip on Thursday night, facing Calgary at the Saddledome at 9 p.m.

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