The Tampa Bay Lightning ran out of luck at the table, losing their first in 12 games to the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 5-3 on Thursday night. The Lightning played a good, tight game with the Golden Knights, but let a few lapses in energy take the game away from them, or at least a chance for some points near the end.
The Lightning gave up three killer goals before and after the second intermission. First, Steven Stamkos scored a power play goal to tie the game at one with less than five minutes to go in the period, but then the team immediately gave up a goal to Paul Stastny less than a minute later. Then, right at the top of the third period, the Lightning gave up goals to Ryan Reaves and Max Pacioretty. Reaves’ goal was 10 seconds into the period and Pacioretty’s came 47 seconds in. From there, it was a 5-2 game with all the momentum in Vegas’ favour, the game was done.
Stamkos made it close with his second power play goal of the game at the end, bringing him into a tie for second place in franchise power play points, but there wasn’t enough in the tank for the Lightning to make up for their mistakes.
With that second power-play goal, Stamkos now has 297 career power-play points, tying Vinny Lecavalier for 2nd most in Lightning franchise history (Marty St. Louis is franchise leader with 300). #Bolts #TBLvsVGK— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) February 21, 2020
Brayden Point was kept out of this game due to injury, but newly-acquired Blake Coleman made his Lightning debut in this one. He had a pretty decent debut, including a couple good chances, but he was overshadowed by Alec Martinez making his debut for the other side. Martinez picked up a goal and an assist in his first game not with the LA Kings, and was in fact the fourth Golden Knights player to have a multi-point game in his debut with the team.
I thought, despite the shot share in the game marginally favouring the Lightning, that they were the second-most dangerous team on the ice in this game. They had chances, but they were from the slot, not in front of the net, and Marc-Andre Fleury never seemed fluttered by the traffic around him.
The Golden Knights worked harder than the Lightning, taking away their time and space, and ultimately making life easy for their goaltender. According to MoneyPuck, the Lightning only accumulated 2.3 expected goals from their 61 shot attempts (in all situations) compared to Vegas’ 3.14 (pi) in 55 shot attempts.
I was watching this game from the Golden Knights regional feed that was being played on Sportsnet in Canada. I feel like their commentary really undersold how good the Lightning were doing (all power to them, their job is to sell Golden Knights games) and that took me off guard as I was watching. I didn’t notice how well the Lightning were actually doing until after I checked the stats between periods. I guess Vegas really knows how to sell their product?
I got better at this as the game went on, eventually muting my feed as I was too tired to listen. I think the Lightning had a strong start, but as the game went on they got overwhelmed and gave up more quality chances that overpowered the quantity they themselves were going for. This game was on the road in an incredibly energetic crowd, I’m sure that played a part in this game. I hope that’s something they focus up on as they head towards the playoffs.
Kevin Shattenkirk opened the scoring with a lucky goal off the skate of Nick Holden as he was trying to center the puck from the corner off the rush. Shattenkirk was trying to find Anthony Cirelli, who was sandwiched between two Golden Knights defenders as the team was trying to counterattack after a sharp save from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
I don’t think Cirelli was going to be able to consciously put the puck in the net himself, so it’s lucky that it went in off Holden. Credit to Cirelli for causing that chaos in front of the net, though only Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat got assists on the goal for their work in the transition from defense to offense.
The Lightning came out strong with an early push, leading the game 9-3 in shot attempts midway through the period, but the Golden Knights responded in kind with a couple good shifts of their own. The Lightning were lucky to score when they did because the flow of play was definitely not in their favor, hence the counterattack.
Nikita Kucherov one-timer on power play late in the first, Shattenkirk and Victor Hedman with chances as well, but the Golden Knights eventually killed off the penalty and capitalized on some offense right at the end of the period.
In his first game for his new team, Alec Martinez scored his second goal of the season. It eerily looked like the one he scored to win the 2014 Stanley Cup in overtime. Cody Eakin got the primary assist for the point shot from the middle of the blueline. Vasilevskiy nearly had it but the puck squeaked through him.
Vasilevskiy's got the flippers going. His Bauer pads give the hottest rebounds in hockey, which is usually a GOOD thing. Puck goes past first wave of attackers driving net. Unfortunately it didn't work well on the Martinez goal...hot and right on the tape— Mike McKenna *LIVE* (@McKennaInGame) February 21, 2020
At the end of the first, the Lightning were holding onto a moderate lead in 5v5 shot attempts (21-18), while relatively even in shots (9-10) and scoring chances (9-7). Without hindsight, I thought the Lightning were in a good spot to capitalize on a tied game. Unfortunately, luck pulled the wrong way.
I kinda wish Nate Schmidt had finished off this goal because then I could’ve called it dope. Unfortunately, it was instead Paul Stastny who scored his 250th career goal to give the Golden Knights a one-goal advantage once again. It came on the tail of a pretty neat passing play form himself and Reilly Smith that left the Lightning on the back foot and Vasilevskiy stuck unable to get a piece of the puck.
The power play was one of the few things that the Lightning had going well for them in this one. They went 2/4 on the night, starting with this patented one-timer from Stamkos in his office at the left faceoff dot. After moving the puck around on the right side, Hedman was able to fish the puck through a lane to Stamkos, who smashed his shot off the stick of Holden and past a diving Fleury. Stamkos, in fact, broke the stick of Holden as the puck made its way through it and into the net.
Here is the goal that happened a minute and one second later. Pacioretty and MArtinez combined for a really effective check on Kucherov as the Russian tried to slide his way into the offensive zone. Pacioretty pushed the puck just out of Kucherov’s reach as Martinez pushed forward and retrieved the puck. From there, it was a quick transition from the Golden Knights first line, ending with a sharp dangle from Mark Stone to beat Vasilevskiy to the far post.
Again, in terms of volume, the Lightning did good in this period. At 5v5, they had more shot attempts (10-8), shots (6-4), and scoring chances (5-4). Unfortunately, they took two penalties (while drawing two themselves) and got caught without numbers back in transition. I felt like the Lightning were starting to cheat for offense at this point. I think I was proven right immediately after the second intermission.
Right off the opening faceoff, Ryan Reaves hunted down the puck like it was a winger in a vulnerable position along the boards, out-muscling an equally big Braydon Coburn enough to get a shot off that somehow beat Vasilevskiy. Vasy was okay in this game, not great. Saving this goal would have really done a lot to keep the Lightning in the game through the first period.
I actually missed this goal live because I was writing about the one just 37 seconds prior. Yep.
Between this goal and the Reaves goal, the Lightning manages to take a penalty (Coburn, holding), lose the faceoff, and get sniped on by Pacioretty from basically the point. However, I do have to admit, that was a pretty sweet pass from Stone there.
There was a scary moment in the final minutes of the game when Tomas Nosek tripped over Cedric Paquette’s stick off a faceoff in the Lightning’s zone. Nosek took a point shot from his teammate right to the face and quickly rushed himself off the ice to get checked. He didn’t return to the game, which was understandable considering the time left and the score. Hopefully he’s okay. The Golden Knights need to beat the Florida Panthers for us on Saturday night. Oh, they’re 15 points behind? Nevermind.
Tomas Nosek is hit by a shot from the point, comes off the ice and heads down the tunnel. #TBLvsVGK— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) February 21, 2020
Stamkos scored his second on the power play to make a game of it with exactly two minutes left in the period. This was another patented Stamkos rip from the left faceoff dot. This time, the pass came from Kucherov feeding the puck through a maze of sticks in the slot. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. At least we got some fantasy points out of it?
STAMMERTIME!!!— BritBolt ⚡️ (@Brit_Bolt) February 21, 2020
(Fantasy points celebration only )
Quickly at the end, I’m just going to go over my general thoughts on Coleman in his Bolts debut. In terms of numbers, he took four shot attempts, three of which were from a scoring chance area, and two were on net. This was near the top of the team at 5v5. Coleman ended up playing 14:25 at 5v5 (20 shifts), which was most among forwards. Coleman didn’t receive any special teams time, which is reasonable considering he just got here.
His line with Mitchell Stephens and Yanni Gourde performed the best of the bunch in this game, putting up a shot attempts differential of 12-5 in almost 11 minutes together. I think that trio had some good chances together, including a couple chances right in the slot and in front of the net.
One chance that stood out to me from Coleman was right off a faceoff loss in the offensive zone. The puck was bobbling so he challenged the puck carrier and manufactured an odd-man rush going the other way. Despite his good speed, he was being closed on by the other defenseman so he took a shot from the top of the left circle that Fleury had to challenge hard and was just able to squeeze it between his elbow and body.
On the down side, Coleman did take a pretty unfortunate boarding penalty with six minutes left in the game. The Vegas forward was vulnerable up against the boards and he ran him through the numbers. He was also on the ice for two goals against. The Stone goal and the Reaves goal.
Personally, I believe plus-minus is a dumb stats because after looking at the video, I don’t understand what two dashes next to Coleman’s name had anything to do with his play on each goal. He was the play trying to take the transition pass from Kucherov on the first goal, aka he was the first forechecker. On the second, he was in the neutral zone while Coburn got out-muscled by Reaves.