Bolts eliminated by another OT loss

by Gary Shelton on April 30, 2023

in general

Stamkos scored the Bolts' only goal./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

It ended ugly. It ended painfully. It ended at home.

But for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it ended suddenly.

The Lightning, a team used to lasting for a while in the Stanley Cup playoffs, hung around only six games this time. Three of those were losses at home, where the Bolts had been good this year, and all of those were in overtime.

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Vasilevskiy lost three games in overtime./TIM WIRT

It ended with a puck bouncing off the skate of Darren Raddysh and finding its way into the net as John Tavares celebrated. It ended with the wrong fans cheering, and the wrong team celebrating, and the wrong feeling hitting the Lightning players.

"Listen, this team hasn’t lost a playoff series in this conference since 2019," said Lightning Coach Jon Cooper. "It’s 2023. We’re not used to this feeling. It just doesn’t feel good. I think 31 other teams would love to have our history over the last 10 years, the last five years, the last three years. That’s why this is difficult. We’re usually on the other side of this press conference.

"At some point, you’re not going to get the break. That’s the way it is. And for an organization that has struggled, they were eventually going to get a break. It sucks it was the series against us"

The Bolts problem Saturday night was scoring. The Bolts' only goal was a rebound scored by Steven Stamkos.

"It’s a very lonely feeling right now when you’re out this early," Stamkos said. "The expectations we had, the players have. The expectation is to make a run every year. When you’ve had the run we’ve had, the bar gets raised."

The Bolts could not win a post-season game at Amalie Arena, dropping all three in overtime. In the first, they led with a minute to go in regulation. In the second, they blew a 4-1 lead in the third period. In the third, they had a puck go off its skate.

"We didn't have a lot of puck luck," Stamkos said.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 of 22 shots. Toronto's Ilya Samsonov stopped 30 of 31.

Cooper watched Bolts lose a series./TIM WIRT

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