The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Colorado Avalanche in overtime by a score of 2-1.
The first period, the Lightning came out flying. They'd pinned the Avalanche in their own zone for most of the period, and outshot them 14-5. Again, no one individual stood out; they played as a team who was driven to win.
The only place they suffered statistically was with faceoffs. They'd won just 28% in the opening frame. And perhaps because of that, they were only ahead 1-0 on a goal by Pavel Kubina.
If it weren't for Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the first, the Lightning may have very well been up 3-0 or more. The Lightning were swarming all over him and he was outstanding. He was all that stood between Tampa Bay and a blowout favoring them.
But then the second period came around, which has been their worst part of the game all season long.
It's very possible that the altitude got to them by the time that the second period hit. Denver really is a mile above sea level, despite still being in the Plains - that "Mile-High" business is literally true. As one who's had altitude sickness (I was hiking at 6,000 feet), I can tell you for a fact that it's nothing to mess with.
Then again, with how the Lightning has played this season, the altitude might have had nothing to do with anything. They came out flat, and were again out-played for the second and much of the third. They didn't look tired so much physically as they did mentally.
Colorado scored halfway through the second to tie the game up 1-1. The tables had turned and Mathieu Garon was now the goaltender keeping his team in the game. Garon was pretty spectacular for most of the second half of the game. Up until the very end, anyway.
With approximately three minutes left in the game, the Lightning woke up again and were making a serious push to win the game. That didn't happen, and it went into overtime. But instead of repeating the shootout game from a year ago with the Avalanche, this one ended during the brief overtime period.
Unfortunately, despite Garon having such a great game, a mental mistake on his part caused the loss. He wasn't square up to the goal post and a puck got in between him and the net. In a game that the Lightning might've won, their stupid luck continues.
Of course, the defense didn't help in keeping the shooters out on the perimeter, either. In a team game, it's often difficult to lay the blame on just one person, despite it looking like one person's fault. If the defense had done their jobs just a little bit better, then Garon might've had time to correct his mental mistake.
But, that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes in hockey - and more often than usual for the Lightning this season.
The next game is Tuesday, 27 December, against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Game time is 7:30 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 7 pm. Stop in and say hi if you're not going to the game, won't you?
And, if you celebrate, have a safe and Merry Christmas.
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