Some nights, it’s not your night. Last night, it was Andrei Vasilevskiy who had one of those bad nights. The 24-year-old netminder allowed 5 goals on 33 San Jose Sharks shots in a 5-2 Tampa Bay Lightning loss on the road. Even though Vasy allowed a few goals he normally wouldn’t, the defense dropped the ball when it came to covering the front of the net. It wasn’t Erik Cernak’s best night either, frankly.
With the loss, Tampa Bay’s point streak in 16 straight games is over. The team went 15-0-1 since November 27th when they lost 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, amassing 31 of a possible 32 points in that span. I think the Lightning will be fine despite the loss. They are the runaway leaders of the Presidents Trophy and have a 10-point cushion over the next two teams (Toronto and Calgary).
The Tampa Bay Lightning now have 10 losses this season.— Frosty the SnowLad ☃️ (@HardevLad) January 6, 2019
We are 42 games in.
For the most part, the beginning of the game saw the two teams feel each other out. But an Erik Karlsson stretch pass caught the Lightning not fully prepared in the defensive zone. Nikita Kucherov was lazy on the backcheck into the zone, and allowed Logan Couture to casually take a pass from Timo Meier and slot it in the back of the net.
Twenty-eight seconds later, Brent Burns set up Joe Pavelski with a sweet cross-ice feed that opened up the Sharks captain for a chance. Pavelski’s shot rung around the post, but definitely hit the back of the net before falling out. Ryan Callahan tried to play the puck out of the zone as he was unaware the referee had signalled goal. One can dream, Cally.
Heddy! It was a mostly broken play, but as Alex Killorn’s butt hit the ice, captain Steven Stamkos spotted Karlsson’s best friend Victor Hedman and threw him a spinning backhand pass. From there, Heddy used his godly Lightning powers to snipe a show far enough to the left to beat Martin Jones. Wow, that paragraph went places. It’s really late.
Despite giving up the two goals, the Lightning had a good start, especially for a road game at a weird time. The Bolts had more shot-attempts (19-11), shots (8-4), and scoring chances (10-5). They were getting to the front of the net, and had several shots in the slot area.
With Anton Stralman in the box, Timo Meier standing in front of Vasilevskiy, Cernak somewhere off to the side, and Ryan McDonagh using Bulbasaur’s ‘Harden’, Evander Kane sniped a shot to the top corner to extend San Jose’s lead back up to two.
Less than 30 seconds later (and as I was googling to make sure I had spelt Bulbasaur correctly) Mathieu Joseph and Mikhail Sergachev broke away for a odd-man rush chance. The 21-year-old forward used his incredible speed to get around the Sharks defenseman and feed his 20-year-old teammate a centering pass that the young defenseman tipped up and over Jones’ shoulder. Nice celly, too, Sergy.
Also on the goal, Sergy knocked Jones’ skate blade out. That then led to this very gif-able moment. Jones had to come out of the game to get his skate replaced, meaning Aaron Dell got to face (and stop) one shot in his 1:15 of ice time.
"Shark Swims Without Fin" (2019) pic.twitter.com/UR4IsbqkrS— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 6, 2019
The second period was not like the first. Namely, the Lightning were out-shot in every category. They were behind in shot attempts (12-19), shots (6-8), but somehow came out ahead in scoring chances (10-8).
Vasy wanted this one back. Badly. Kane threw a puck at a shallow angle at Vasy’s pads, but he was too slow to react and the puck snuck through for another goal.
This goal was a bit of a mess. The Lightning got caught in their own zone, and it was eventually Hedman losing his assignment and allowing Lukas Radil to bury a rebound. Meier (who was all over the ice in this game) had the initial tip on a Burns shot get behind Vasilevskiy, but it actually hit the near-side post and popped out.
Tampa Bay lost. Despite leading the shot battle for much of the game, and being behind all night, they ended up behind in shot attempts (39-50) and shots (16-28). This was only the 11th time all season that the Bolts had given up more than 50 shot attempts in a game. They led the shot battle in one of those game, and are 8-2-1 when they do. They’ve been getting lucky a lot this year (*thinks back to the Maple Leafs game*), but luck wasn’t there in this one.
- I’m proud of Mikhail Sergachev for getting his first goal of the season 40 games in. He’s been really good all season, especially for a 20-year-old, so it was nice for him to get that monkey off his back.
- Jeez, Mathieu Joseph is fast as heck, eh? Brayden Point, too. He had some great chances in this game, but nothing came to fruition. He tied the team lead in shots with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson with three. The Sharks did a great job of hounding the Bolts with good sticks and Jones never really felt troubled. Those two aspects combined for a pretty lacklustre offensive night for the forwards.
- If I had one player criticism over the first two periods, it would be towards Cernak. On Pavelski’s goal, he was slow to react to the weak-side play and didn’t cover the stick. And again, on the Kane goal, he needed to rotate over to the left side of the ice and take out Meier from in front of the net. Hopefully this game becomes more of a learning experience. Cernak is a good player, but he needs to tighten up and learn how to be on 24/7. It’s hard to do, but I think his partner McDonagh has been one of the best Bolts at that criteria since his arrival. He should be a great mentor for him.
- Ah, great. Now I feel bad for saying what I said. Leave it in, editor Lauren!
#TBLightning Cooper said Coburn got banged up in Kings game. They hope upper body injury won’t keep him out long.— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) January 6, 2019
- Vasilevskiy doesn’t normally end games with a save percentage lower than .850, but he did in this game. Thankfully, it’s probably a one-off.
- The Bolts power play went 0/2 and looked positively tame all night.
- Nikita Kucherov had his consecutive multi-point streak end at seven games. First-world problems, ammirite?
League leading scorer Nikita Kucherov no points or shots and a minus-4 tonight— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) January 6, 2019
- It’s 1:40am local as I’m finishing this.
- Team USA lost World Juniors gold. To Finland.
- I’m very sleepy. Goodnight!