Suddenly mortal Lightning loses in a shootout

by Gary Shelton on February 6, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Tyler Johnson puts a hit on Carpenter./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Hey, it was a shootout. Shootouts are glorified coin flips. Sometimes, they go the other way. Agree?

Hey, it was by one goal. As hot as the Lightning have been for most of the season, they're allowed to lose a one-goal game. Right?

Hey, Vegas is a quality opponent. The Knights were in the NHL Finals last year, for crying out loud. There is no shame in losing to them. Check?

On the other hand, do you feel the rest of the NHL sneaking up on the Tampa Bay Lightning?

McDonagh slides across the ice to protect the puck./JEFFREY S. KING

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Vasilevskiy had 35 saves for Tampa Bay./JEFFREY S. KING

Okay, okay. Early February is no time to panic, but the Lightning lost a 3-2 shootout to Vegas Tuesday night. They blew  a two-goal lead in the process and wasted a 35-save effort by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who fell to 21-7-2 on the season. It lowered the Bolts' record to 39-11-3.

But it also might have served to make the Bolts glance over their shoulders,

Point scored his 31st goal of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

too. Tampa Bay is now 4-4 in its last eight games, and the goals seem to be harder to come by. The Bolts have just 19 goals in their last eight games and have scored more than three goals only once.

Tampa Bay's best shot in overtime was hurt by a two-minute penalty for having too many men on the ice. They killed it off, with Vasilevskiy stopping six shots, but they never mustered a scoring threat. The Bolts missed all three of their shootout attempts.

Alex Tuch scored the only shootout goal for Vegas to win the game.

The Bolts got goals from Brayden Point and Mathieu Joseph in their loss.

Cooper makes his point on Joseph's goal./JEFFREY S. KING

"It wasn’t the worst game we played all year and it wasn’t our best," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "It was pretty fitting it went to a shootout."

Cooper, looking on the bright side of things, pointed to the Lightning's better play on defense.

“It’s been a pretty big part of our game," Cooper said. "We just got to keep building on that moving forward. But when you’re giving up two goals or less a game, it gives you a chance to win. It gave us a chance to win tonight, we just didn’t pull it out in the shootout.”

Cooper expected the shootout to be low scoring.

“Unfortunate call at the end there, but we killed it off. Tough one in overtime…It was a huge penalty kill, what they did. Then it comes down to

Kucherov had an assist to add to his league-leading total./JEFFREY S. KING

the shootout, and we’ve had our share of success in the shootout this year. Two good goalies, it’s probably just going to take one to win that won, and that’s what it did.”

Point, who scored his 31st goal, said that it was simply a close loss.

"Losing a lead is tough at home, but I think we had a few PP chances where we could've scored," Point said. "I don't know if we necessarily shot ourselves in the foot. I thought it was a tough game, good battle, good saves either way.

"Things have gone so good for us this year so sometimes it's kind of easy to nitpick when we lose. I think sometimes you just go through highs and lows and sometimes you don't find ways to win games. Think that's going to happen for us, but we are back in the groove, we're back in the rhythm, this is what we do."

Steven Stamkos didn't dismiss the effort in the same way.

“You can’t expect to win a game once it goes into overtime and we’re killing the whole time," Stamkos said. "Vasy stood tall and ensured that we had the one point. The shootout happened, and it can go either way. We’ll take the point but make sure to show some attention to detail moving forward.”

The Bolts are home again on Thursday night in a game against the St. Louis Blues. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.

Stamkos had two assists for the Lightning./JEFFREY S. KING


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