Bolts close out home season with dismal loss

by Gary Shelton on May 8, 2021

in general

McElhinney is 4-6-2 on the season./CHUCK MULLER

Saturday, 3 a.m.

In the end — or at least near it-- it came down to this. The Dallas Stars wanted to make the playoffs more than the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted home ice advantage.

The desperate Stars, still chasing Nashville for the final playoff spot in the NHL’s Central Division, dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night. The Stars beat the Lightning 5-2 in the team’s final home game of the regular season.

The Bolts ha a seven-game point streak snapped.

The Bolts can still gain home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a successful weekend against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise. It should be noted that the Bolts will have to play a lot better than they did Friday night.

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“We didn’t play very well,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t defend well. We didn’t complete hard in the way we normally do. We turned the game into a little bit of a one-on-one game, not only with the puck but without the puck. We didn’t make our breaks. We had a few tough ones go against us.”

The Bolts had won six of seen against Dallas during the season, but they weren’t in the game very long. Dallas scored the game’s first two goals and won going away.

“You’re not going to play a perfect game every night.” Cooper said. “It was disappointing that with three games left, we decided to play one of your worst ones of the year. Give Dallas credit — they’re a desperate team trying to make the playoffs. They’re still alive. They needed to win tonight to stay alive and they did. It was not a great night for us.

“We had games like that when we try to make six passes coming out of our zone and we don’t need to. We never got pucks behind their D. We need put them in footraces.”

The Bolts’ goals came by Blake Coleman and Alex Barre-Boulet.

Goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped only 26 of 31 shots.

“It was just a lack of attention to detail,” Coleman said. “We’ve been pretty strong with the late run we’ve been on. For whatever reason, we had some pretty glaring mental errors defensively  and left Mac out to dry a little bit.”

There is something to be said for the quick turnaround for the Bolts who play the Panthers tonight.

“Sometimes, it’s a good thing getting ready to play another game and right some of those wrongs,” Coleman said. “I think we’ll be a motivated group. We’ve still got something to play for here, as do they. You don’t want to be stumbling in. You want to be playing the right way.”

Cooper, however, wishes his team was as rested as Florida.

“I'd like to have the four-day break they’ve had before we play them,” Cooper said, then added. “It’s always good to play after you don’t play well.”

The Bolts and Panthers game will begin at 7 p.m. at the BB&T Center

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