The Tampa Bay Lightning lost tonight to the St. Louis Blues by a final score of 3-0. The Blues managed to pot a goal in each period on 24 total shots. The Lightning managed just 19 shots, getting fewer than 10 in the first two periods. The Blues controlled play all game as the Bolts looked tired, sloppy, and failed to have their best players be their best players.
The Blues opened up the scoring late in the first when a slapshot from Kris Russell found its way through lots of traffic and beat a heavily screened Mathieu Garon. Late-period goals would end up being a theme for the night. The goal came minutes after a long 4 on 4/power play sequence for the Bolts in which Blues goalie Brian Elliott showed tremendous positioning, squaring perfectly to nearly every shot he faced.
The second period was essentially a mess for the Lightning with the Blues controlling play throughout. The Bolts finished the final 14:04 of the period without a shot, racking up only two for the entire stanza. Adding insult to injury, the Bolts entered the Blues zone with less than a minute left with what looked like would be their best opportunity of the period. Instead of putting a shot on net, Martin St. Louis dropped the puck back to the defenseman joining the rush. His shot was blocked and turned into an odd-man rush the opposite way. Kevin Shattenkirk buried his second of the year with just 4.6 seconds left to make it 2-0. The uncharacteristic bad decision by Marty could have been a result of feeling rushed after already having taken several big hits from the Blues, as he seemed to their primary target.
The Lightning, while showing much more effort in the third, gave up the backbreaker in the final period, a shorthanded tally by T.J. Oshie. A miscommunication behind the net between Steven Stamkos and Garon allowed David Backes to steal the puck and feed it to a painfully wide open Oshie who buried into the empty net behind Garon.
Elliott ended up being the story, stopping all 19 shots for his second shutout of the season. The shutout is especially frustrating for the Lightning in a game where coach Guy Boucher often placed the "Big Three" - Stamkos, St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier on the same line. Despite the offensive overload, the Bolts had very few high quality chances. That kind of thing happens when you only get 19 shots on goal.
Boucher called the game "Groundhog's Day," considering tonight's effort similar to how the team has played on the road most of the season. And it really has seemed to be a theme. Not good for a team that has so far played 10 of its 16 games away from the St. Pete Times Forum.
Garon, starting due to the fact that Roloson has played five straight with a division game against the Winnipeg Jets looming was solid throughout, but not spectacular. Boucher refused to place the blame on him though, saying "It's not one or two guys or one line playing bad, it's everybody."