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Lightning forwards fail to show up in Coyotes blow-out

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Losing Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat shouldn’t mean THIS much to the team.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes
Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Michael Grabner (40) scores a short handed goal on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue (70) during the second period at Gila River Arena. 
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning got run out of the desert by the Arizona Coyotes in a 7-1 mauling. Adam Erne scored the only goal of the game for the Lightning on a shot he didn’t even shoot. Louis Domingue stopped a measly 24 out of 31 shots in the loss. It was that kind of night.

Nikita Kucherov gave the puck away twice on the power play and Michael Grabner converted on both chances going the other way. That was the theme of this game; the forwards completely hung the defense — and by extension Domingue — out to dry with their turnovers and terrible effort in tracking back and covering for their teammates. The team will need to have a long practice once they arrive home in time to play New Jersey on Tuesday. Get all those bugs out.

First Period

Minutes before the clock struck 9:00 pm, we got news out of New York that Erik Cernak and Mitchell Stephens didn’t join the team for the third period. The Crunch and the Charlotte Checkers combined for 30 penalty minutes through the first two periods, including 20 in the second period alone. The game has been pretty nasty with most of the penalties being offsetting roughing, slashing, cross-checking penalties.

Cernak was presumably on the short-list of defensemen to be called up by the Lightning in lieu of Victor Hedman’s injury. If this is indeed an injury — or anything resembling an injury — the odds that Cameron Gaunce switches with Cernak so the rookie can play a few games in the NHL are none. Congrats on your lineup spot, Slater Koekkoek, I guess.

Anyway, onto the game at hand.

Tyler Johnson and Christian Fischer got tangled up behind Domingue’s net away from the puck and the Bolts centerman got called for an interference penalty. Domingue made a few routine saves, and rookie Mathieu Joseph used his dynamic speed for a good chance on Antti Raanta while shorthanded.

0-1

The Coyotes were successfully hemming the Lightning in their zone for several minutes and were eventually rewarded with a Jordan Oesterle point-shot that rose and fell under under the blocker of Domingue. Jon Cooper called for a review on the play for goalie interference. There was a chance Brendan Perlini got in the way of Domingue’s blocker, but it was deemed that Perlini didn’t stop Domingue from making the save, and he was out of the blue paint for good measure.

0-2

Oh, wow. With four men in between him and Domingue, Clayton Keller Dropped a low curveball through the five-hole of Domingue from the point. He must’ve done it on purpose because he didn’t look like he whiffed on the puck at all. Anyway, the Lightning are down 2-0 early and I’m not in the acceptance stage of grief, you are.

Throughout all these goals, it must be said that the Lightning were consistently out-shooting the Coyotes by a 2:1 ratio.

0-3

But that doesn’t mean anything when you’re down three goals. All three of the forwards on the fourth line got caught way too deep in the Coyotes zone, resulting in a 3-on-2 against the third pair of Koekkoek and Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev took his man, Koekkoek grabbed the player going to the net, playing the pass, but with no support, it allowed Derek Stepan to walk in and snipe on an honestly beaten Domingue.

The Coyotes tend to be skiddish when it comes to leads; they don’t encounter them often and when they do, they tend to lose anyway. But three goals appeared to be a safe enough cushion for the team who has now started to skate circles around the Bolts. On the shift directly following the Stepan goal, Ryan McDonagh took a holding penalty. Luckily, the Lightning were able to kill it off, but they were firmly on their heels at this point.

After One

The intermission could not have have come fast enough for the Lightning. The Bolts’ shot metrics weren’t bad in that period, but most of their production came in the first half of the period.

Another important part of the equation is that the Bolts relied on point shots way too much. They weren’t getting close to the net or slot nearly often enough. That’s why the shot-attempts (15-13), shots (8-4), and scoring chances (6-8) trend in favor of the Yotes as the parameters narrow. Shot volume is good, but in tight games, chances are what really make or break teams.

Shot map of the first period between Tampa Bay and Arizona
NaturalStatTrick.com

Second Period

The Lightning started to play a bit more cohesively in the second period; Brayden Point’s shiftiness and power really helped the Bolts on the power play with Fischer in the box get things going, but no goals materialized in the first half of the period. On top of that, the Coyotes have still been able to get multiple odd-man rushes. 2-on-1’s, 3-on-2’s, 4-on-2’s. It doesn’t end.

0-4

And it didn’t with this play. The Lightning were caught on a...wait am I reading this right? A 3-on-3 with Johnson the first man trailing??? God, I don’t know what happened here. Let’s watch the video. Vinnie Hinostroza scored, by the way.

OH C’MON DAN GIRARDI!!! YOU’RE NOT A GOALIE!!!!!!

0-5

OH COME ON! The Bolts are now being scored on while up a man! A reckless pass attempt by Kucherov was taken all the way into the Lightning zone by Brad Richardson and put in by Grabner. Amazing scoring chance aside, Domingue had to have that. Oh, and Keller was in the box for slashing, so honorary assist to him, I guess.

After Two

Seriously, nothing else happened in that period. I think no one will be happy to know that the Lightning left the second period officially down in shots (20-23), all-situations attempts (37-40), scoring chances (21-25), and of course goals (0-5). Fun night so far. If you’ve read up until this point, I want you to know that I value you and think you’re amazing. You make me want to keep writing, even when the score is 5-0.

Third Period

Erne took a roughing penalty early in the third, kicking off the inevitable five-goal comeback in good stride. You know you’ve been embarrassed when Rick Tocchet put out two defensemen and barely played his big boys when up a man. It was nice of him to not want to run up the score on the lowly Lightning.

One small ray of light in this otherwise dull game in the desert was the play of Anthony Cirelli. The kid is so good on his feet with players all over him. He does a great job of keeping opponents’ sticks away from the puck while skating to where he wants to go. He’s used that skill to great advantage. A lot of his best goals come from the right side of the goalies net by banging the puck home through a maze of sticks, feet, and pads.

0-6

Not again. Grabner scored shorthanded for the second time tonight. This time, he picked off Kucherov directly from the source, raced down the ice, and deked his way past Domingue. It has not been a good night for either Bolt mentioned in the sentence above. Kucherov has been invisible for most of the game, and when he wasn’t he was giving up short-handed breaks. Domingue was hung out to dry in this game, but he could’ve at least stopped the fifth goal?

1-6

We got one! We think? Johnson threw the puck onto the net from the half-wall and it bounced off Erne and somehow beat an unaware Raanta, ruining his shutout. The play was reviewed for offside, but goal-scorer Erne appeared to get back and tag up in time just before the play. The best part of the goal review was that the referee accidentally said “Pheonix Coyotes” instead of the “Arizona Coyotes”. Ahh, good times.

1-7

The Yotes scored again off an odd-man rush. Yanni Gourde did a great job of getting back and stopping the back-door pass from reaching Keller, but then Sergachev had the puck stripped from him by Richard Panik whose whipping shot somehow deflected off a Bolts body and past Domingue for the seventh time tonight. It really was that kind of night.


And that was that. See you next time when the Lightning play the Devils at home on Tuesday. I probably said that at the beginning of the recap, but it’s never bad to focus on the future, right?