Bolts’ nosedive reaches three losses in a row

by Gary Shelton on March 13, 2022

in general

Bogosian scored the only Lightning goal./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Suddenly, the Tampa Bay Lightning are charging in the wrong direction.

The Bolts lost their third straight game Saturday night -- their poor play has gone on much longer -- in a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

This time, it wasn't close. The Bolts gave up 49 shots, and they compiled 19 minutes of penalty time -- almost an entire period -- in the defeat. The Oilers had seven power plays, and although they didn't score on any, they controlled the attack for the entire game. They had 16 shots on power plays.

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"When things aren’t going well for you, you invent ways to shoot yourself in the foot," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Whether it’s turnovers or taking too many penalties, we’re finding ways to make it hard on ourselves. You’re going to put some of the best players in the world on the ice. You can't do that.

Zack Bogosian scored the Bolts' only goal in the third period, cutting the Oilers' lead to 2-1, but Tampa Bay was unable to score with 1:23 of ice time.

"We had the chance to get back in it," Cooper said. "A wise man once told me that if you don’t score on those, it’s tough to win the game."

“We were making it hard on ourselves by taking a lot of penalties," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "You give their top-end guys lots of touches and a lot of time and space and they’re going to make you pay."

Even a successful penalty kill is hard on a team. It taxes the defensemen, and it keeps the offensive stars on the bench.

"It’s not so much the shots," Cooper said. "You've got your players sitting on the bench and you're sucking momentum out of the game. It really ruins the flow of the game for you."

The Bolts' top stars both were blunted offensively. Nikita Kucherov missed on all seven of his shots and Steven Stamkos on all five of his.

It adds up a team that is trying to sound calm, but one that is facing a desperate time.

The Bolts play in Vancouver tonight at 10 p.m.

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