Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Calgary Flames, 3-2. This ended their point streak at seven games.
The Lightning are a drastically different team with Jonathan Drouin out. The only line that was getting consistent pressure was the Point, Namestnikov, Killorn line. The Triplets line had a rough game until the latter portions of the third period.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper reached second in coaching wins in franchise history a few games ago, and we here at Raw Charge completely forgot to mention it. He earned his 143rd win (passing Terry Crisp’s 142) earlier in the month when the Lightning defeated the Anaheim Ducks on February 4. Cooper currently has 147 wins. The all-time leader in wins as a coach is John Tortorella, with 239.
The start of the first period between Calgary and Tampa Bay had a quick pace to it, with both teams applying a strong forecheck and generating shots. Tampa Bay struck first when Vladislav Namestnikov deflected Braydon Coburn’s point shot, which fooled Brian Elliot. Brayden Point generated the opportunity below the goal line where he outmaneuvered a Calgary player, and then passed the puck to Coburn, who took a wrist shot from the point that Namestnikov got his stick on. The following shift by the Lightning was energetic and swift, which led to a penalty being called on Dougie Hamilton for tripping. The ensuing power-play produced a few solid chances for the Bolts, but they were unable to convert on it.
Near the midway point of the period, Jake Dotchin took a tripping penalty at 10:30 into the game. The Lightning did a solid job of limiting Calgary’s chances on the power-play, but Calgary moved the puck around the zone well. Once the penalty was finished, Anton Stralman was penalized for shooting the puck over the glass, which put the Bolts right back on the penalty kill. The Bolts had some trouble on the second penalty. A breakaway for Troy Brouwer was thwarted by Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Flames continued to maintain pressure throughout the power-play. The first ended with the Bolts up 1-0, but momentum was leaning in Calgary’s direction.
The first five minutes of the second was controlled by the Lightning, who put a few more shots on Elliot while keeping Calgary’s offense stuck in the neutral zone. Once Calgary could get set up in the Bolts zone they promptly scored.
The play was started by Matthew Tkachuk winning a puck battle against Point behind the net, he then passed the puck to Michael Frolik who then proceeded to move the puck up to Hamilton. Hamilton immediately passed across the zone to Mark Giordano, who threw the puck towards the net where Mikael Backlund tipped it past Vasilevskiy for his 18th of the season.
Calgary did not allow their momentum to be stalled as they kept the pressure up which led to Sean Monahan’s goal 1:21 later. The goal was the work of Johnny Gaudreau utilizing his speed to gain some space between him and Dotchin, once Gaudreau had some separation he threw a backhand shot towards the net where Monahan tipped it past Vasilevskiy.
Prior to Gaudreau shooting, however, Monahan had cross-checked Victor Hedman, effectively removing him from the play, with Hedman having both knees on the ice Monahan had no one to battle against for the puck. This goal really seemed to suck the life out of the Lightning.
The rest of the period was Calgary maintain pressure and drawing penalties. Dotchin fought Lance Bouma and the team seemed to react to it well with multiple shifts putting pressure on Calgary as the second period waned.
There were some missed calls late in the second that caused a major stir up from the crowd. Both Point and Namestnikov were held at two different moments at the end of the second with neither being called by the officiating crew. The crowd went into a flurry of chants lambasting the referees, but no call was made and the period ended with Calgary up 2-1.
Tampa could not have asked for a better start to the third. The first shift forced Calgary back and drew a tripping penalty from Michael Stone to give the Bolts an early power play. The Lightning cycled the puck well on the ensuing power play, but were unable to get anything past Elliot.
The Lightning had a very hard time penetrating the neutral zone for large stretches of the third against the Flames, between bad passes and poor forechecking the Flames merely recovered every dump in and sent it the other way.
Unfortunately, right as the Lightning started to generate some zone time Alex Killorn took an undisciplined tripping penalty with just under five minutes to go in regulation. Dougie Hamilton scored 1:17 into the power-play by shooting through a screen to give Calgary a 3-1 lead with 2:58 left in the third.
Vasilevksiy was visibly upset with the goal as he smashed his stick against the post before tossing it down the ice. Calgary’s Matt Stajan took a tripping penalty 50 seconds later which gave the Lightning a small glimmer of hope with a late power-play. Nikita Kucherov made it 3-2 with a power-play goal at 18:47. The Kucherov goal brought some much-needed life into the Lightning, but it was too little too late as their last minute and a half surge didn’t result in a goal.
Overall this was a disappointing game to attend, the Lightning seemed to ease up after Namestnikov scored and once Calgary went ahead the Bolts seemed lethargic. Suddenly waking up in the last two minutes of the game isn’t going to win this team many games, especially with how important points are now.
Around the league, the Islanders defeated the Canadiens to earn two points while the Maple Leafs earned one point for losing to the Rangers in a shootout. Boston plays later this evening so their result will be known in the morning. Overall, this was a game the Lightning needed to win to try and keep pace with the teams ahead of them.
The schedule coming is not friendly, the Lightning have 22 games left this season and out of those 22 games, only eight (ARI, BOSx2, BUFFx2, CAR, DAL, DET) are against teams not currently in a playoff spot. Sitting six points out of the closest playoff spot with a schedule that does not look overly friendly is not good. If the Lightning want any chance of making the playoffs they need to put the Calgary game behind them quickly.