Brayden Point put the Tampa Bay Lightning on his back, but it wasn’t enough as the team ultimately lost, 5-2, to the Florida Panthers in the first of a three-game set against their state rivals. The top center scored twice in the loss, including a beauty on Sergei Bobrovsky, but the rest of the team wasn’t up to scratch for the vast majority of the game and it cost them.
Captain Steven Stamkos missed the game with an undisclosed lower body injury, he has been listed as day-to-day. Late in the third period, Anthony Cirelli appeared to hurt his hand and never made it back onto the ice as the Lightning tried to mount a comeback.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 28 in the loss (.857 sv%), he mirrored his skaters with an erratic performance. He had to move a lot to get to where the puck was going. Sergei Bobrovsky on the other side stopped 19 of 21 in the win. Yes, the Lightning only mustered 21 shots in this game. The Panthers held 60% of the shot share throughout this game and 75% of the scoring chances.
With Stamkos out before the game, Tyler Johnson was pushed up to the first line with Point and Ondrej Palat. Mathieu Joseph then took his spot on the second line with Cirelli and Alex Killorn. Dear flarrfan, you got half your wish at least?
Tyler Johnson takes Stamkos’ spot on top line. Mathieu Joseph moves up to second line with Cirelli + Killorn. A good opportunity for him with the way he’s chipped in offensively this season. #tblightning— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) February 12, 2021
It was an eventful start to the period, Joseph, Barclay Goodrow, and Ondrej Palat all getting chances on Sergei Bobrovsky. Unfortunately, the Panthers got better chances on each of their possessions and the Lightning were quickly on the back foot. They just couldn’t keep the Panthers away from the slot, where many of the shots came from.
Eventually the dam broke and Frank Vatrano opened the scoring for Florida. The Panthers had created chaos in front of the net, with Bolts diving everywhere to find the puck to no avail, eventually all the Bolts were out of position, leaving all three Florida forwards alone at the side of the net where Vatrano buried the opening goal.
- Shot Attempts: 12-21
- Shots on Goal: 6-7
- Scoring Chances: 5-12
In the penalty-free period, every player on the Lightning were at 50% possession or worse. Only Point and Cirelli broke even thanks to a shift where they played together (with Pat Maroon right after the goal) — they took four shots and zero against. I don’t think that duo is sustainable long term, the Lightning simply need to be more cohesive as a unit. For times they looked ok, but when players started missing pucks and got out of position, it got really bad. The Panthers would come with a flurry of chances whenever it happened.
Things didn’t get better at the start of the second, after an early shot from Victor Hedman, the Panthers rallied for seven in a row, all scoring chances. Later in the period, Point almost got away on a break, but he was cleanly sandwiched by Aaron Ekblad and another defenseman before he got across the blueline. The Panthers defense was really proactive and mobile on that play especially.
The Lightning just seemed too deliberate once they got possession. Every move they made was a little lethargic and the Panthers were able to pounce on the defense quickly. The Panthers by contrast were a lot more dynamic and creative with how they got through the neutral zone. Lots of puck skills and passes to make the plays happen and get around the Lightning.
Alexander Wennberg extended the Panthers lead after burying a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau on a 2-on-1. This goal was coming, even though it was on a rush, because the Lightning really struggled to deny zone entries and couldn’t get numbers to the blue line themselves to create pressure in the offensive zone.
The Lightning caught their break with a too many men power play on the Panthers. The added space gave Point enough room to burst through the middle of the ice and beat Bobrovsky low stick side.
I’ll be honest, the Lightning didn’t deserve that goal, but I am very glad they scored it because it acted like a shot in the arm. The team’s next shift was aggressive and they looked much more alive. Unfortunately, as that shift ended, Mikhail Sergachev got called for interference on Wennberg.
Aaaand the Panthers responded with a power play goal of their own. This goal came from Ekblad on the left side with a really hard one-timer.
Former Bolt Carter Verhaeghe broke in off the wing and got a chance to the short side of Vasilevskiy, he kept with the puck, circled around the net and passed it in front from the corner. The puck bounced off Erik Cernak’s skate and in. Wennberg was right there to complete the pass if it ever got to him. Including the zone entry and Cernak getting beat wide, Verhaeghe just worked hard and was better at making plays than anyone on the Lightning without the puck. This goal was really representative of the game, in my opinion.
- Shot Attempts: 10-11
- Shots on Goal: 6-8
- Scoring Chances: 2-7
Every time the Lightning tried to make room in the offensive zone, Ekblad, Anton Stralman, or MacKenzie Weegar were there to retrieve the puck and get it out of the zone. It was so annoying. It summed up the offense of the Lightning. They would dump it in, one of those three would push it to a forward and out. They would try to skate it in, one of those three rubbed them out and gave the puck to a forward and out. In open ice, around the boards, everywhere.
All on his own, Brayden Point scores his second of the night. He came bursting in from his off wing, beat the defender out wide, and while motioning that he was going to skate around the net, backhanded the puck over Bobrovsky’s shoulder and in. A brilliant, deceptive goal.
No matter the score, Brayden Point always makes you think “we can win this.”
Diiiiiiiiive.......... Eetu Luostarinen performed a double-kick on his way down from a trip by Blake Coleman. The Florida forward got the obvious embellishment call. During the 4-on-4, Cirelli seemed to get hit at a weird angle and left the ice.
Oh and lastly, Dear Jameson... It was a dive.
I'm obviously biased, but calling this a dive is pic.twitter.com/FpAFjNuHlY— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) February 12, 2021
Looks like Anthony Cirelli got banged up on that last shift, favoring his arm #tblightning— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) February 12, 2021
With three minutes left in the game, Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy for the extra attacker. Two minutes and four tries later, Brett Connolly scored the empty netter.
- Point was incredible. It seemed after that first period sandwich, he wasn’t letting anyone get in his way. He nearly scored his hat trick goal with two minutes left in the third after dancing around the left faceoff circle. It was truly him against the World in this game.
- Speaking of Point against the World, this team is good enough that they should not leave Point all on his own like this. Cirelli’s injury late hurt the team, but Palat was pretty invisible, Johnson couldn’t seem to make any progress offensively, and the whole group missed assignments defensively.
- Cirelli didn’t return after his injury.
- Mikhail Sergachev had one of those games where he was in the spotlight a lot. He made some great offensive plays and looked dangerous, but he was in the middle of a lot of chaos in his own zone. That being said, he certainly wasn’t alone in being the unfortunate cause of chaos, Cernak was in the same boat.