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The Tampa Bay Lightning need to start on time if they want to win games

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This team needs to learn to be proactive, rather than reactive.

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning has his shot saved against goalie James Reimer #47 and Joel Edmundson #6 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at Amalie Arena on November 30, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning played the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 scoreline in the favor of the boys in red and white. Canes goalie James Reimer stopped 36 of 38 shots for the win. Sebastian Aho, Jordan Martinook, and Jaccob Slavin all scored for the Hurricanes in the first period, forcing the Lightning to play from behind for the rest of the night. Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson scored in the third period in an attempt to mount a comeback, but it wasn’t enough by the end.

Score effects and playing from behind gave the Lightning a significant edge in shot share at 5v5. Unadjusted, the Lightning carried 61% of the shot attempts throughout the game, but when you adjust for venue and score, it was really only a 54% shot share advantage.

The Lightning were a strong team, but only after they had already made the three mistakes to lose them the game. Two goals against from poor line changes, and another from a missed assignment in front of the net. Once given a 3-0 lead, it was easy for the Canes to manage attacks in the defensive zone without having to worry about offense. The Lightning made a real game of it by the end, but after having to come from three goals down, the odds were never in their favor.

First Period

The Lightning took a too-many-men penalty early in the game during a sloppy line change. This led to Aho scoring on the power play about 30 seconds into the infraction. Line changes continued to haunt the Lightning in the period when Erik Cernak fell while trying to get off from the far side of the rink, leaving his post wide open for Martinook to score. You have to feel for Cernak on this goal, it was fully just bad luck. Good on him for staying on the ice to “take the L” (or minus) instead of giving it to the defenseman he was coming off for.

The fourth line had a good shift in the first half of the period. Yanni Gourde got what felt like the first shot from the slot by the team all night. Beyond that chance, they Bolts struggled to get to the middle of the ice against the Carolina defense. They always seemed to get in the way of centering passes from below the faceoff dots. Their expected goals numbers after the first period felt to be more volume than quality.

There was a nice moment when Sergachev wound his way through the neutral zone before having to leave the ice for a change. He was relatively untouched as he crossed the blue line and accomplished drawing in an extra defender to him, opening space for Ondrej Palat to exploit. One slick backhand pass and Palat was almost on his own against Reimer, but unfortunately, couldn’t finish. It was one of the few times the Lightning got on the inside of the Carolina defense.

Right at the end of the period, the Lightning gave up a really unlucky goal that probably could’ve been avoided had Kevin Shattenkirk tied up the stick of the defenseman Slavin in front of the net. If he had taken him out of the play, there wouldn’t have been much issue on the shot from the point by Aho on McElhinney.

Also, this save happened. What?!

After One

By the end of the first period, the Lightning had pulled ahead in the shot categories, but at the beginning they were the slower of the two teams and gave up some grade-A chances on McElhinney. What happens at the beginning of the game sets the tone for the rest of the night and right away the Lightning were the team that reacted, rather than being the aggressor.

Second Period

The Lightning had a good period in the second but sadly came out of it with nothing to show on the scoresheet. In terms of the biggest chances, Steven Stamkos roofed a loose rebound up and over the net when battling for a puck at the side of the net. I think the puck was rolling on him, and he needed to get the puck up in order for it to beat Reimer, but he was unlucky to have it go too high and over the net. Funnily enough, this also happened the Canes at the other end of the rink off a rush. I’m not sure who took the shot but they took a cross-ice pass off an odd-man rush and just missed too high on the on-timer. Luck going both ways, I guess.

Reimer was very strong in the period, stopping shots and winning battles for rebounds all over the front of the net. One of his biggest moments came when he robbed Palat on a 2-on-1 with Point setting up the shot.

The Lightning were trying a lot of things in the second period; stretch passes, crashing the net on point shots, and also getting aggressive with the body. Palat, Luke Schenn, and Anthony Cirelli, all laid big hits along the boards and in open ice, trying to get their team going offensively, trying to bring some energy into the game. In my opinion, all it really did was create some skirmishes after whistles. At least they got pacifist Reimer in on the action!

After Two

I agree, shut up, Alan.

Third Period

Goal! Finally, something coming out of the sheer volume the Lightning were throwing on the Hurricanes. This was a nice display of speed by Point and Nikita Kucherov as they sifted through the neutral zone into the offensive zone. The Hurricanes got caught with too many players standing high in their own zone and were easily passed as Point crossed the blueline.

It was the second half of the middle frame when Johnson really woke up and he was all over the net in the third period. He nearly scored right after the 3-1 goal when he was left all along in front of the net. Kucherov was driving the net and forced the defender to leave Johnson and cover the attack coming from him. At that moment, Johnson pushed off the defender and found a pocket of empty space in the blue paint. Kucherov’s pass was decent, but Johnson couldn’t time it right and whiffed on the one-timer.

Johnson got his redemption later in the period when he sniped on Reimer off a rush. His shot hit the top corner and was timed perfectly with Cirelli’s screen as he was passing through the shooting lane. Johnson definitely earned this, his fifth goal of the year.

Johnson nearly got what could’ve been his third goal of the game when Stamkos fed him a pass from behind the net. Reimer was quick to make the save there, too. Johnson was doing well at the other end of the ice including diving to stop a pass through the slot while on the backcheck. It was a great play and gave the Lightning some life as regulation was quickly coming to a close.

One thing I did like about the final phase of the game was when Ryan McDonagh bailed his team’s penalty kill out by drawing a penalty of his own only a few seconds into it. It saved Gourde from having to sit in the box as the Canes potentially restored their two-goal lead, and gave the Lightning some time at 4v4, where they were strong.

As the Lightning were pressing right at the end of the game, Stamkos was boarded to no call. The play went the other way and Hedman had to take a slashing penalty in order to stop an empty-net goal. The only penalty on the play was against Hedman. That ruined the game with 30 seconds left and the Lightning lost.

Takeaways

  • Shouts to my guy Alex Killorn for his incredible iron man streak of 236 consecutive games dating back to 2017. For the style of player he is, and what he does on the ice in front of the net and on the penalty kill, for him to miss his first game in almost three years is impressive.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning will be back on the road on Tuesday to take on the Nashville Predators. Puck drop at 8pm ET. Hopefully that game isn’t another version of this one.