In a way, this game was as close as the score implies, and so not as close as the score implies. The Lightning had moments of brilliance and moments we'd all like to forget. More of the latter than of the former to some, but that's how it goes sometimes.
The big story of the game was Mathieu Garon leaving the game a little over two minutes into the second period. Anders Lindback came in to replace him, and Garon did not return. At the time of this writeup, there has been no official release as to how long he'll be out. However, Cedrick Desjardins has officially been recalled for the game tomorrow in New Jersey.
Tonight's game was Ondrej Palat's NHL debut. He was in for the injured Benoit Pouliot. He played well, and managed to get his first NHL point on a goal by Tom Pyatt, so congratulations to him! The other two Lightning goals were scored by Steven Stamkos.
Now, I'm going to write a bit that most will probably not agree with. It's amazing that we can all watch the same team play the same game and come up with equally valid opinions, isn't it? So here's my rather hopeful point of view on the game.
Despite the loss, I thought that they did pretty well. They played more of a well-rounded team game than they have in a long time. Sure, there were some ugly turnovers in some unfortunate places, but those were fewer than they have been.
They were far better defensively as a team than they had been. They played the game unevenly - that is, they had their ups and downs. But it was marked improvement from before. I wasn't able to point my finger at any one player that was better than the rest. A few had some good plays and most tried contributing in some fashion.
Had they been playing like they had in recent games, the Lightning would've been blown out of the water by six or eight or more goals - especially with Garon going down like he did, as he's been one of their most consistent players.
The next Lightning game is tomorrow, 5 March, at the New Jersey Devils. Game time is 7 pm ET. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 6:30 pm, so come join us.