After putting together back to back wins, the Lightning reverted to a familiar formula in a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. The Bolts played just as well as they have been lately but too many pucks ended up in the back of the net and the offense couldn’t compensate.
Nicklas Backstrom started the scoring in the first period giving the Caps the lead. Brayden Point tied the game in the second and the game started the third period as a goalie duel at 1-1.
Ilya Samsonov got the better of Andrei Vasilevskiy in that battle in the third. The Caps scored twice in the first three minutes of the third. First, Lars Eller and then Garnet Hathaway. Jan Rutta cut the lead back to one with a little under nine minutes left and it looked like the Lightning might climb back in the game. But TJ Oshie scored less than a minute later on a wraparound putting the game away for good. The Bolts seemed to break down a bit after that quick response and didn’t control play the way they had for much of the game. Washington eventually added an empty netter.
To add injury to insult, Nikita Kucherov blocked a shot off his foot midway through the second period and did not return to the game. Obviously, any time without him be a huge blow to the Bolts.
We’ve seen a lot of charts that look like this so far this season. The Lightning got the better of the expected goals at both 5v5 and in all situations. But they ended up on the wrong side of a relatively lopsided score line.
The Caps are a good team so losing to them isn’t the worst thing. They lead the NHL in points for a reason. The play of the skaters was encouraging again. But it’s a little disconcerting to see Vasilevskiy give up another four goals. If this was a one time thing, I would write off as a bad luck loss. But there have been so many this season that it’s hard to do that. This is another game where the Lightning at least deserved a point but ended up with zero.
The biggest story tonight though is Kucherov. The Lightning have been careful with their stars this season including Kucherov who missed some time earlier in the season with a minor injury. Let’s hope this is the team playing it safe again. Because the last thing they need just as they’ve started to play better lately is to lose one of their best players to injury.
Brayden Point goal to tie the game 1-1.
Jan Rutta goal to cut the lead to 3-2.
TJ Oshie seals the deal.