This one had all the markings of a definitive "trap game". Coming off one of the most complete all-around games they've played all year (especially since the Olympic break), a win against a division rival that resulted in clinching a berth in the upcoming playoffs, the Lightning were set to face a non-contender from the Western Conference. The Flames did everything except cackle maniacally, rub their hands together and say, "We've got them exactly where we want them." The end result was more than an embarrassing 4-1 loss in front of a home crowd of 17,495; the coveted "game in hand", an opportunity to pile up points and gain distance from Montreal, is squandered.
The Bolts weren't completely terrible and as Fearless Leader John Fontana mentioned in our game preview, the Flames are not bad for a not-good team, but Tampa Bay didn't come close to matching the effort or execution they put forth on Tuesday.
"The players in the room have to take a little bit more accountability. They didn't show up ready to play, you know preparation, work ethic, they've got to bring that. mentally I don't think we were all there in the first period. It was a tough one to swallow tonight." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
"We just didn't play well. It's frustrating; it's disappointing to sit here at this time of the year and play like that. It felt like we didn't want to win the game. We knew this wasn't going to be a cakewalk and we played like that." - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos
They did get the first scoring opportunity of the game early on when Victor Hedman hit J.T. Brown on a long pass, springing him for a breakaway. However, he was turned away by Calgary netminder and former Bolt Karri Ramo who was solid from start to finish.
The Flames got on the board at 10:20 when Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, making his fifth consecutive game and 28th appearance in the last 30 games, played the puck behind his net and made a perfect pass... to Calgary's Mike Cammalleri who scored with ease into the vacated net,
It was 2-0 Calgary after one period of play.
At 15:56, the Lightning trimmed the lead in half when Ondrej Palat scored on assists from Matt Carle and Ryan Callahan. This seemed to energize the Lightning and they were able to generate a number of good scoring opportunities but were simply incapable of converting.
They were able to keep the score close until daggers were applied by the Flames' Curtis Glencross late in the third. First, he scored on the power play at 18:04, getting helpers from Cammalleri and Kris Russell and then finished things off with an unassisted empty netter at 19:45.
What do the playoff-bound Lightning take away from this?
"This should be a wakeup call for us, it's been a couple months that is so inconsistent. Big games we play well and other teams we play (bad)." -Stamkos
"Your season is not near over. You are playing at home it's the National Hockey League, every team is good, and every team is trying to win a hockey game. You can't just throw your sticks in the middle of the ice and win a hockey game." - Cooper
The days to learn such lessons are dwindling down to a precious few before the real work starts.
Lightning are now 42-26-9, tied with second place Montreal in the Atlantic Division but slotted in third place due to tiebreakers in Montreal's favor. They will continue the current homestand on Saturday night, when they host the Dallas Stars
- The Lightning are 7-6-0-1 (hey everybody, remember ties?) against the Flames all-time in regular season games at the Forum
- There are no players on either roster that competed in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals between Calgary and Tampa Bay.
- Prior to the game, the Lightning's senior advisor to the general manager Tom Kurvers was named to the U.S. Men's Hockey Advisory Group for the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship
- The Lightning honored Steve Yerrid as the 37th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Yerrid, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Yerrid Foundation. Yerrid believes that giving back is the real essence of life. In 1996, he helped launch a Grand Slam Celebrity Fishing Tournament that has raised more than a million dollars to fight pediatric cancer. For the past 11 years, Yerrid has joined the Lightning to host and sponsor Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night. He is also the Founder of the Yerrid Foundation which has helped over 250 charities in the Bay Area. Yerrid had been widely recognized for his work among the community. He has received the Spirit of Hope Award from the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, 2012 Man of the Year by American Foundation for the St. George Children's Hospital, Golden Kite Award from the Children's Cancer Center, Community Person of the Year Award from the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and the Ted Williams Award for Champions of Charity.