The Lightning lost their game on their one-week trip to the Western Conference teams. The Arizona Coyotes, who haven’t scored more than three goals during the last month, gave the Bolts a cold shower, scoring seven times. The 7-3 loss was the first time the Lightning allowed seven goals and one of the biggest losses for the team during this season.
Besides Cedric Paquette, who was questionable before the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning also lost Mitchell Stephens, who was left out with a lowe body injury as a precaution per Jon Cooper. Additionally, Erik Cernak didn’t return to the game after suffering a lower body injury in the second period. No information on his status has been released yet, but this injury potentially leaves the Lightning without three defencemen as Jan Rutta and Ryan McDonagh are already out week-to-week due to their injuries.
On the bright side, the fans got a first look at what happens if you combine Anthony Cirelli and Blake Coleman on the same line. They organized the first goal for the Lightning and didn’t allow any goals during their shifts. Both players also played solid shorthanded, having a handful of chances and constantly threatening the opposite net on the penalty kill.
Cameron Gaunce will certainly stay longer with team. Today was probably his best game for the Lightning. He naturally fit as a forward creating a lot of offence and recording two assists in this game. When needed, he returned to his defensive position to fill in for Cernak.
In net, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t have a good game and returned to his version from the start of the season. He was screened couple of times, but also would definitely like to take back couple of goals.
The Lightning opened the score early in the first period. After winning a faceoff around their own net, Alex Killorn sent the puck into the Yotes defensive zone. Blake Coleman quickly retrieved it and left the puck for Cameron Gaunce who threw it into the opposite boards. Killorn controlled the rebound and made a pass to Anthony Cirelli who was left alone in front of Antti Raanta and redirected the puck past him. Cameron Gaunce was awarded with the secondary assist.
The brand new Killorn-Cirelli-Coleman line got another opportunity a little bit later. First Coleman fired the puck toward the Yotes net, but it went wide. Then, Cirelli regained control of the puck after intercepring a pass in the offensive zone, but Raanta made a save with his stick on Cirelli’s shot. Gaunce was also close to having his first multi-point NHL game for the Lightning, but his pass from the slot to Steven Stamkos was blocked by Niklas Hjalmarsson, who did it laying on the ice.
For the most part of the first period, the Yotes struggled to create offense but the Lightning helped them to get some. First, Taylor Hall intercepted a Kevin Shattenkirk pass but was stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy and then Carl Soderberg was denied on his backhand shot.
With three minutes left in the period, the Coyotes tied the score. Ilya Lubushkin’s shot missed the net, but Conor Garland retrieved the puck at the top of the left circle, skated towards the net, and send it behind Andrei Vasilevskiy who was probably screened by Luke Schenn on this goal. Shortly after, the Yotes took the lead. This time, it was Clayton Keller who beat Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot from distance.
The Coyotes had a slight advantage on shot attempts, but the Lightning led the first period with a 65% expected goal share after the first period
After five minutes of the second period, the Coyotes went on their first power play. The Lightning played better during the first half of two minutes, creating a couple of good chances in front of Antti Raanta’s net while playing shorthanded. The Yotes got together in the second half and after a couple of dangerous shots, finally scored. Garland beat Schenn on his way to the net and made a pass in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy. After a couple of rebounds, the puck eventually went into the net. Carl Soderberg was listed with a goal, giving his team a 3-1 lead.
Three minutes later, the Bolts cut the gap back to one goal. Ondrej Palat started the rush after stealing the puck at the Lightning blue line. After entering the Coyotes zone, he dropped it to Gourde, who remained control of the puck and made a pass to Gaunce. He then skated to the net and blasted the puck. Raanta denied his shot but Palat was first on the rebound and slide the puck into the net.
Brayden Point tied the game for the Lightning two minutes later. It wasn’t a very good game for the top line, but they scored this goal in their classic fashion. Point and Kucherov exchanged a couple of passes after Point started the rush, then he tried to deliver the puck to Kucherov who was waiting for it on the opposite post of the net. Kucherov couldn’t handle the puck, but Stamkos regained it behind of the net and fed Point with a beautiful backhand pass. Brayden Point made no mistake, beating Antti Raanta to tie the game 3-3
Arizona took the lead back almost immediately. Taylor Hall won a battle for the puck behind of the Lightning net and made a pass to Brad Richardson while standing on his knees. Richardson gave his team a 4-3 lead with a one-timer past Vasilevskiy.
In addition to all the bad things happening to the Bolts in this game, they lost Erik Cernak due to lower-body in the middle of the second period. The Lightning defenceman had an unfortunate collision with Taylor Hall who fell on his knee. This moment looked pretty bad for Cernak as his knee bent in an unnatural way. In his absence, Gaunce had to return to defence.
At the end of the second period, Arizona had a double advantage in shots on goal. However, the Lightning had almost the same number of overall shot attempts. The Yotes also had a tiny lead in expected goals in this period.
The things continued to not look well for the Lightning in the third period. They finally got a chance to have a power play opportunity after Oesterle was called for interference, but it lasted just thirty seconds as Nikita Kucherov was also in the penalty box due to call for a tripping a little bit earlier. Victor Hedman had a good chance on this power play, but the Bolts still went scoreless.
In the middle of the period, Lawson Crouse stole the puck from Hedman and sent Keller on a breakaway who made it 5-3 for the Coyotes. Conor Garland scored his second goal of the game with five minutes left in the period. The Lightning challenged this goal for goalie interference as Garland was pushed down to the crease and was laying under Andrei Vasilevskiy at the moment the goal was scored, but the referees confirmed the goal. So instead of taking this goal back, the Lightning went on another penalty kill.
The Lightning allowed another goal at the end of the game when the team missed another rush by the Coyotes players. Garland and Stepan ran away on a 2-on-1 break. Conor Garland could have tried to complete a hat-trick here, but delivered the puck to Stepan who blasted a one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Coyotes secured a 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Cirelli (Killorn, Gaunce): 1-0
Garland (Lyubushkin, Ekman-Larsson): 1-1
Keller (Goligoski, Stepan): 1-2
Palat (Gaunce, Gourde): 2-3
Point (Stamkos, Kucherov): 3-3
Richardson (Hall): 3-4
Keller (Crouse): 3-5
Garland (Schmaltz, Hall): 3-6
Stepan (Garland, Keller): 3-7