This was the second of home-and-home games for these two teams. The Lightning lost both of them. And in doing so, they not only lost a great chance for advancing themselves in the Eastern Conference standings, but also lost the opportunity for getting some points within the Southeast Division.
Dustin Tokarski made his NHL debut when he replaced Antero Niittymaki to start the third period. After Niittymaki and the rest of the team allowed five goals on 18 shots, Tokarski didn't see much of the puck. He faced only five shots in his first 20 minutes in the NHL.
The only line to remain intact for most of the game was Alex Tanguay, Vincent Lecavalier, and Jeff Halpern. The rest of the lines were mixed and matched all game long. At one point, Martin St. Louis was playing with Zenon Konopka.
I think I've finally figured out Rick Tocchet's problem when it comes to lines - particularly when it comes to doing the obvious of putting Lecavalier and St. Louis back on a line together. It's his pride and his pure contrariness. No one's going to tell him what to do, even if he has to shoot himself in the foot to avoid doing it. If everyone thinks that putting Vinny and Marty together is a good idea, then he's going to avoid doing that at all costs. And he has.
The problem with that kind of mentality is that he's putting his pride ahead of the team. If you want to win, then you do what you need to to win, regardless of whether everyone else wants you to do that or not. Who cares where the idea came from. If it's a good idea, and it'll help you win, then you should use it.
That's such player - and not coach - thinking right there.
This game had better energy than the previous one in Tampa. It also had players stepping up to try to make a difference, unlike the last game against the Panthers. I thought that Lecavalier had a much better game, as did Halpern and Mattias Ohlund.
Alex Tanguay scored his 200th career NHL goal. And on that goal, Lecavalier was awarded his 400th career NHL assist. Nice milestones for both players to have reached together.
The Lightning's next game is Monday, 18 January, at the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is at 7 pm Eastern. This is the first of back-to-back games on the road.
Lightning vs Panthers coverage [SB Nation]
Litter Box Cats [SB Nation Florida Panthers site]