Sluggish Lightning beaten by Minnesota

by Gary Shelton on March 8, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Devan Dubnyk sprawls to stop Anthony Cirelli's shot./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 4 a.m.

This is what it will be like. The traffic will be thicker. The net will be smaller. The ice will be like quicksand.

And the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Opponents are going to be less likely to watch them in awe.

The Lightning, as good as they have been in the regular season, got a preview of their post-season in Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Bolts, a high-flying laser show of a hockey team, seemed slower and more methodical in losing only their 13th game of the season.

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J.T Miller gets tangled up with Minnesota's Ryan Donato./CHUCK MULLER

The Lightning had a chance to clinch a playoff berth for a second-straight season and the franchise’s 11th playoff berth overall with a win over the Wild but will have to wait another day.

Jason Zucker had a hat trick for the Wild.

Lightning's Dan Girardi stands over  Ryan Donato./CHUCK MULLER

“We played a stubborn game tonight, stubborn in the sense that we didn’t manage the puck at all," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We’d get our entries, our rushes, they clogged up the middle really well, they back pressured really well. And when you’ve got to play that kind of grind it out game, we refused to play it tonight. I don’t know if guys were tired or what have you, but when we play that type of game and we’re turning the puck over, it’s hard, especially when you don’t have the lead so now you’re chasing. I thought we did not manage the puck well at all tonight, and that’s what happens.

“I’ve liked the way we’ve played for most of the year, and you’re not going to win them all. It’s a little frustrating tonight because we needed to dumb down our game a little bit and we didn’t do it. We kind of fed right into them, and they played disciplined enough to beat us.”

Referees explain Minnesota's 2nd goal being upheld after going to video review./CHUCK MULLER

The Bolts had only five of its 25 shots in the third period.

So what was the difference for the Bolts?

"We tried to make a couple too many plays in the neutral zone instead of using our speed and maybe doing a couple self chips and getting some more O-zone time," said Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. "We have to give them credit, they played a great game tonight. They needed a win, and they got it."

Tyler Johnson said the Bolts have to get back to basics.

I think we just have to stay within our system and we know that we're a good team and we're going to get those chances," Johnson said. "But I thought for parts of the game here we just got away from what we wanted to do. You have to give Minnesota a lot of credit too, they were above us and turned some pucks over and played the right way.

Vasilevskiy had a 10-game winning streak snapped./CHUCK MULLER

"Those are the games you want to play at this time of the year. We're focused on the playoffs. We're focused on trying to be the best team we can be going into it. You're going to be playing against good teams. Minnesota was a desperate team tonight, and they played well. It was a good test for us. We need to play the same way in order to succeed, and we're just thinking about playoffs right now.”

Forward Anthony Cirelli agreed.

"Yeah that's what the playoffs are like, and that's what we're going up against," Cirelli said. "I think these are good test games for us. I thought that for the most part we were skating, we were getting pucks to the net. Vasy played great again tonight. We just have to find a way to be better and get a couple goals in."

"They had a good defensive game plan there, and they were kind of stopping us in the middle. But we have to get pucks in deep and get on the forecheck."

The Lightning plays against Detroit Saturday night at Amalie Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

Cernak and Wild LW Jordan Greenway need to be separated in the 2nd period./CHUCK MULLER


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