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Lightning blow three-goal lead, lose to Blues in shootout

Well, the first five minutes were fun

Tampa Bay Lightning v St Louis Blues Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

A depleted Tampa Bay Lightning team started off strong with three quick goals, but the St. Louis Blues chipped away at the lead, eventually tying it early in the third period before winning in the shootout by a score of 4-3. Anthony Cirelli, Corey Perry, and Erik Cernak scored for the Bolts while Brian Elliott made 30 saves on 33 shots.

Gabriel Fortier made his NHL debut in the place of the injured Mathieu Joseph. Just prior to the game it was announced that Steven Stamkos was on his way back to Tampa to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. The Lightning went with an 11/7 line-up with Cernak returning to the line-up.

Despite being shorthanded offensively, the Lightning roared out to an early and substantial lead. Two minutes into the game, Anthony Cirelli, a grizzled veteran at 24 compared some of his teammates up front, poked home a loose puck to give the Bolts an early 1-0 lead. Tampa Bay was buzzing in the offensive zone and the Blues looked kind of lost.

A Lightning power play kept St. Louis swimming in mud defensively and the Bolts doubled their lead thanks to Corey Perry. Alex Killorn flubbed a one-timer in the general direction of the net as he fell to the ice. The puck hit Cirelli in the chest and deflected off of the post. It dropped right to Perry who was just kind of standing around at the side of the net. He batted it into the net for his third goal of the season.

The bounces kept going the Lightning’s way off of the ensuing face-off. The Lightning won it and Erik Cernak, who played 19:48 in his return, dumped the puck down along the right side boards. It hit a stanchion and caromed to the front of the St. Louis net. Jordan Binnington was looking behind the net, you know, where the puck was supposed to go, and it hit him in the skates and into the back of the net.

The problem with a 3-0 lead six minutes into the game is that there is still fifty-four minutes to play. As the period wore on, the Blues found their game. Yes, the Lightning sat back a little, it’s hard to keep the pressure on with a three-goal lead, but St. Louis isn’t bereft of offensive talent and they slowly evened the shot count. Despite the offensive explosion early Brian Elliott was actually the best player for the Bolts in that period.

The Lightning backup netminder made 13 saves, with his biggest coming just before the Lightning’s successful power play. With the Bolts up 1-0, Oskar Sundqvist was behind the defense and alone in front of Elliott. The youngster tried to draw it back to his forehand and lift it over Elliott’s pad, but couldn’t elevate it over the glove.

Eliott had to be sharp as St. Louis just kept the pressure on. Tampa Bay didn’t just take their foot off the gas pedal, they ripped the pedal off and tossed it out the window. That’s not a great strategy against the Blues who can bedevil their opponents with a solid forecheck and a proclivity for moving the puck around the zone crisply.

It took until the second period but their constant attacks into the Lightning zone finally paid off. First it was Ryan O’Reilly chipping a centering pass from Jordan Kyrou past Elliott. It was definitely a blown coverage after O’Reilly was left all alone to Elliott’s right once Jan Rutta followed Brayden Schenn away from that spot.

Cool. Surely, that woke the Lightning up and they went back to what they were doing in the first five minutes of the game, right? Yeah, not so much. A clean entry by Sundqvist left some open space for Logan Brown to snap a shot on the goal that beat Elliott on the short-side.

To their credit that goal did kind of wake Tampa Bay up a little. They were still a couple of Red Bulls away from being fully awake and engaged in the game, but they at least they got a shot on goal, something that hadn’t happened for roughly 14 minutes of game play. A goal by the Lightning would have blunted the Blues momentum and Boris Katchouk almost pulled it off with a wraparound that snuck under Binnington’s pads but it wasn’t to be as the puck came to a rest just shy of crossing the goal line.

The good news is that the Lightning have been pretty good locking things down late when they have the lead. It doesn’t matter how it happened, but they went into the third with a 3-2 lead. They’ve been here before and know what to do and not do. Like allow a power play goal.

Well, that’s what they did. Just over a minute into the final frame, Ivan Barbashev ripped one past Elliott to tie the game. That St. Louis power play - so hot right now. Just like that it was a new ballgame. Which, for the Lightning, was a good thing because the game they were playing for the previous 35 minutes wasn’t pretty.

They did perk up a little with the game tied as they strung together five consecutive shots, but neither team could break the stalemate and it went to overtime. The Bolts had the advantage in the bonus frame, especially since they drew a penalty early on. Alex Barre-Boulet had two golden chances, but Binnington denied him both times. Cirelli also chipped one just over the net.

To the shootout.

Kayrou - saved by Elliott

Hedman - off the post

O’Reilly - goal

Perry - saved by Binnington

Tarasenko - save

Colton - saved by Binnington

Hey, a point is a point. The two teams will do it again in Tampa on Thursday.

Highlights

Anthony Cirelli (Taylor Raddysh, Victor Hedman) 1-0 Lightning

Corey Perry (Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn) Power Play, 2-0 Lightning

Erik Cernak (Taylor Raddysh, Ross Colton), 3-0 Lightning

Lowlights

Ryan O’Reilly (Jordan Kyrou, Colton Parayko)

Logan Brown (Oskar Sundqvist, Justin Faulk) 3-2 Lightning

Ivan Barbashev (Scott Perunovich, Pavel Buchnevich) Power Play, 3-3