Bolts slide continues against Boston

by Gary Shelton on March 25, 2022

in general

Stamkos broke his scoring slump./Tim Wirt

Friday, 4 a.m.

Hold on a minute, guys. It seems as if you're going the wrong way.

These days, the fading Tampa Bay Lightning have lost their way. If you didn't know better, you'd might think the Bolts were chasing Detroit instead of Florida.

The Bolts lost again Thursday night, an occasion that has gotten more and more regular in recent days. The Bolts fell to Boston, 3-2, behind David Pastrnk's hat trick. They have now lost six of their last eight games, and in six of their last seven, they have scored two goals or less.

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The result is that Tampa Bay, the two-time defending champion, has not sunk to fourth place in the NHL's Atlantic Division. In the overall standings, the Bolts are now in the first wild card position.

“Part of you is saying 'hey we've got a veteran team, we’ve been there before, we’ll come out of it,' " said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Part of you is 'why are we in this?’ and "why are we in this at the point of the season.' ”

Part of the reason is that most of the Lightning stars aren't playing like it. Part of the reason are the lingering penalties. The Bolts have now taken five penalties or more in eight straight games, and they have a total of 62 in their last 11 games.

"Guys aren’t going out to take penalties," said Steven Stamkos. "The penalty kill did an outstanding job, but we can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. It disrupts the game. When it's a trend that's going in the wrong direction and leading to us not winning games, then something needs to change."

The Lightning has two three-game losing streaks in its last eight.

"Teams go through this," Cooper said. "It’s (an) 82 game (season). we’re on a bit of a road stretch, but we’re better than this. If we’re going to execute the way we’re executing now, it’s not going to get better soon."

The Bolts had two leads, taking a 1-0 lead on Brandon Hagel's shorthanded goal, his first as a Bolt. The other was a shot from Steven Stamkos -- his second goal in 11 games -- that put the Bolts up 2-1 in the third period.

But Pastrnak was too much for the Bolts' defense, allowing the Bruins to overtake the Bolts in the standings.

"I thought the penalty kill did a good job," Cooper said "The power play is leaving a lot of chances for us out there."

The Bolts play in Detroit on Saturday afternoon. The puck is scheduled to drop at 12:30 p.m.

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