The Lightning welcomed back the return of Victor Hedman, but also saw Anton Stralman and Adam Erne not skate this evening due to day-to-day upper body injuries. Danick Martel drew in for Erne’s spot this evening. Coming into tonight’s game, the Tampa Bay Lightning were 8-1-1 when leading after two periods. Holding a 4-2 lead against an Ottawa Senators team that was being outplayed for the first two periods should’ve been a simple game to win. Unfortunately, a miserable third period saw the Senators score four unanswered goals to defeat the Lightning 6-4. Tampa Bay’s record is now 12-4-1 while Ottawa’s is 7-7-3.
A strong opening by the Lightning was spoiled due to a miscue by Mikhail Sergachev. Matt Duchene fed a pass through the neutral zone to Colin White who then carried the puck deep into Tampa Bay’s zone. White tried to get a shot on net but it was blocked by Braydon Coburn. The puck bounced behind the net were Coburn tied up White along the boards. Duchene got behind the net and poked the puck free before changing direction and scoring on a wraparound.
Sergachev plays this right, mostly. Up until he chooses to go after the loose puck near the side of the net. He has Steven Stamkos there to apply pressure and force Duchene to go around. By the time Sergachev reacts to Duchene moving to the opposite side of the net, it’s too late. Andrei Vasilevskiy had the post sealed with his skate, but from the replay angles it looks like the puck managed to slide underneath his pad. A rough goal to give up, but not the end of the world.
The Lightning managed to push play back into Ottawa’s zone following the Duchene goal, but were unable to generate anything dangerous on Craig Anderson. A few questionable passes by Tampa Bay were being made and it ultimately came to bite them when Bobby Ryan scored off a turnover in the defensive zone.
Victor Hedman tried to force this pass to J.T. Miller at the blueline. There were two Senators players near him. It was a risky play—one that normally works out for Hedman. Miller was bodied away from the puck by Ryan as it trickled toward Duchene. Duchene made a light pass back to Ryan as the Ottawa winger fired it on net. Vasilevskiy made the initial save, but failed to track the rebound. Watch Vasilevskiy’s reaction, he thought the puck went toward his left. Once he realized where the puck actually was it was too late. The only defender in a position to make any kind of play here was Slater Koekkoek. It looks like the puck hit Koekkoek and drops behind him. Koekkoek immediately spins to take a swipe at the puck, but his stick is met by Ryan’s legs. Ryan falls as a result of this but still manages to knock the puck in as he is falling.
Hard to fault Koekkoek too much on this, he read it correctly but simply missed the puck. If Vasilevskiy tracks the rebound better this goal is probably avoided. Also, if Hedman bounces the puck off the glass and out of the defensive zone this entire sequence is likely avoided.
Luckily, the Lightning have a third line that churns out scoring chances. Just 1:28 after the Ryan goal, Mathieu Joseph scored after his pass deflected off Thomas Chabot’s skate and between Anderson’s legs. This goal was all Joseph. His speed allowed him to skate around the perimeter of the zone and read the coverage. Make no mistake, he definitely made a pass here. He was trying to find Alex Killorn at the far post, and if Chabot’s skate isn’t in the way then this pass is more than likely connecting with Killorn.
I’ll never tire of this line unrelentingly attacking opposing teams and forcing them into awkward positions.
The remainder of the first period saw both teams trade some chances and power-plays, but nothing came out of it. Tampa Bay had the edge in possession 56% - 44%, but Ottawa led in high danger chances six to four.
Tampa Bay started the second period as aggressive as ever. Attacking Ottawa in all three zones and forcing the Senators into some rough situations. This led to a hooking call on Christian Jaros to give the Lightning a power-play just 22 seconds into the period.
It took Tampa Bay 17 seconds to answer.
That’s a Norris trophy winning defenseman weaving through three defenders and firing a wrist shot through a goaltender’s five hole—beautiful.
The Lightning continued to press the Senators as the period progressed and the talent discrepancy between the two clubs became more apparent. Primarily led by the third line, Tampa Bay pinned Ottawa in their zone for repeatedly and forced Anderson to make a variety of impressive saves. Their constant attack finally paid off at 9:15 when Tampa Bay’s lord and savior decided to grace the score sheet once more.
Full credit to Joseph for making a great play to knock the puck off the Ottawa defender’s stick here. That enabled Killorn to retrieve the puck and feed it to Coburn. Coburn’s shot looked like it was deflected high by Joseph at first glance, but after review the officials confirmed it was a good goal by Coburn. My eyes see the puck go in an arc that managed to fool Anderson for a half second. Sometimes that’s all a team needs for a goal.
Tampa Bay continued attacking Ottawa by chipping the puck past the defense and out-battling them below the goal line. All four lines got in the action and it led to another Senators penalty by Max McCormick. The Lightning generated some chances on the man advantage but failed to convert on their third opportunity.
The third line continued it’s brilliant play when Joseph scored his second goal of the game at 14:32.
Killorn makes this goal happen. He fends off a Ryan Dzingel along the right wing boards before making a deft back hand pass to Joseph. Joseph kicks the puck up to his stick and snaps it high on the far side past Anderson to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead. Killorn gets a lot of unearned flak from the fanbase, but he fits in just right with Anthony Cirelli and Joseph. I’m unsure what else people want from a player who has finished between 36-47 points for the past five seasons. Killorn is fine, he is just a normal streaky forward.
Tampa Bay closed out the second leading possession 67% - 33%, shots 23-21, and scoring chances 21-15. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though. Ottawa still had more high danger attempts than Tampa Bay and when the Senators did control play they forced the Lightning defense into a few scary situations. Still, after 40 minutes Tampa Bay led by two and had played well for the most part.
That lasted 50 seconds into the third.
Ottawa’s offense is predicated on causing as much chaos as humanly possible in front of the net—that’s exactly what they did here. The biggest issue here is how alone Brady Tkachuk is in front of Vasilevskiy. There’s no one near him when Chabot fires it from the point. The latter half of the replay shows the best angle of this goal. Vasilevskiy makes the initial stop, but Tkachuk’s flailing managed to nudge the puck past him before Dan Girardi tried to clear it out. Unfortunately, Girardi’s attempt went right into the back of Vasilevskiy and into the net. That’s some rough luck there, but you make your own luck and Tkachuk definitely did here.
The control that Tampa Bay had in the second and for portions of the first were mostly gone in the third. Both teams managed zone time and scoring chances, but Ottawa was generating the more dangerous ones. The Lightning seemed intent on making the extra pass whenever possible and the Senators did a fantastic job at turning those passes into nothing.
Ottawa began to take more control around the eight minute mark and it led to a delay of game penalty on Joseph. The pressure that Ottawa had been applying forced Joseph to put a bit too much on his clearing attempt. Ottawa capitalized four seconds into the man advantage.
This is near comical. Ryan barely puts anything on this shot and White gets just enough of this puck to put it in the right spot past Vasilevskiy. This is the definition of a fluke deflection (just like Joseph’s first goal of the evening). Tampa Bay never recovered after White tied it.
Whether it be shell shock or something else, the Lightning didn’t look like the Lightning. They looked a bit frustrated and it showed in some of their decisions.
Why Tyler Johnson decided to spin and make a pass instead of shooting before Dzingel’s goal, I have no idea. Tampa Bay had a favorable rush and scoring chance until Johnson attempt a spin-o-rama pass to the slot that was intercepted by Dzingel. The rest is just good passing and an even better shot by Dzingel—5-4 Ottawa.
Tampa Bay attempted to surge back, but the same poor decisions continued to ruin their chances. An extra pass here, an ill advised chip there, missing the net entirely, and struggling to enter the zone with possession all damaged the Lightning’s chances in the third. No line embodied this more than Steven Stamkos’ line. They had zone time, and some solid looks early in the game, but this line appeared to be set on making the extra pass to ensure a goal instead of relying on their natural shooting ability.
A late tripping penalty on Victor Hedman effectively sealed the game. Mark Stone scored at 19:48 just to make sure.
Tampa Bay had this game and a flurry of fortunate bounces and mixed play led to this loss. These games happen. Best thing to do is to forget about the game and move forward.
The Third Line
The line of Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, and Alex Killorn combined for five points this evening. Joseph had his first multi-goal and multi-point game (2 goals 1 assist). Killorn had two assists and Cirelli had one assist. My pregame notes circled around Tampa Bay’s depth needing to score more and they certainly did their part this evening.
Aside from Victor Hedman’s goal, the Lightning’s stars were remarkably quiet this evening. Stamkos had three shots this evening, Kucherov had one, and Miller registered zero. On a night were the depth of the Lightning stepped up, it’s stars seemed to struggle. Mostly, this was due to Ottawa stifling a lot of their fluid passing game, but there’s also some self inflicted wounds that could’ve been avoided. Again, these games are bound to happen over 82 games, so I wouldn’t fret over it.
Let’s hear it, folks!