The good news is that the Tampa Bay Lightning played much, much better on Tuesday than they did on Sunday. The bad news is that they still lost. Despite a solid 38-shot effort the offense was once again left wanting in a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Zac Dalpe, Jack Roslovic, Max Domi, and Nick Foligno scored for Columbus while Joonas Korpisalo made 34 saves. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots in the loss. Ross Colton and Luke Schenn scored third-period goals for the Bolts.
The Lightning probably should have walked away from the first period with at least one goal. They had chances, plenty of chances. When things aren’t going a team’s way the bounces just have a way of going against them. Brayden Point has an open look on a transition play and his wrist shot caught just enough of Korpisalo’s stick to deflect wide. Steven Stamkos worked hard to control a blocked shot and his follow-up is blockered away. Mikhail Sergachev danced around a defender and made a pass to his teammate for a slam-dunk goal, but a stick got in the way and deflected it into the socially-distanced crowd.
The power play, which was 1-for-14 coming into the game, looked good on their initial chance as the first unit moved the puck around with pace and precision. They got the shot they wanted, a Point ripper from the middle. Korpisalo made the save but the rebound came to an open Stamkos who was in position to put it into an empty net. However, the frozen rubber disc jumped over his stick.
Those are the close chances that go in when a team is winning. It’s also the little plays that go their way. Stamkos caused a turnover when he picked David Savard’s pocket. Unfortunately he was in a position that wasn’t conducive to shooting and Valdislav Garikov’s sliding body denied a pass across the crease so a prime scoring chance ended with the puck just dribbling on net.
For the majority of the period they controlled the play and were extremely solid in their own defensive end. The breakdowns they had against Detroit were almost non-existent. Almost. The Lightning did get caught puck-watching and it cost them. Seth Jones fired a long pass to Max Domi along the boards. Domi spotted Zach Dalpe cutting up the middle of the ice uncovered. The pass was spot on and Victor Hedman couldn’t recover fast enough to prevent Dalpe from putting the puck past Vasilevskiy.
Overall a solid twenty of minutes of play where the Lightning followed their process without garnering the results they wanted. They had more shot even strength attempts (15-9), scoring chances (10-7) and high-danger chances (5-1). Those types of numbers normally will produce a goal or two, just not tonight.
The almost-breaks continued in the second period as the Lightning continued to play well, cover well in their own zone, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. Even when they made the correct play things didn’t work out for them. Anthony Cirelli pulled up in the slot, waited a tick, and put a pass right onto Alex Killorn’s stick. Killorn fired a shot in stride but it ended up in Korpisalo’s glove.
Later in the period, the Lightning were buzzing in the zone and Ben Thomas made a perfect read as he spotted Stamkos alone and open at the far post. The rookie zipped the pass right on, but the captain couldn’t finish the play.
In another example of when it rains it pours, Columbus capitalized on one of the few mistakes the Lightning made in the period. Vasilevskiy played a seemingly innocuous dump-in behind the net. He played it to Thomas, but the pass was in the young defender’s skates and he couldn’t control it. Cam Atkinson furthered his difficulties with a well-timed swat at the puck that sent it to Jack Roslovic. The former Jet fired it up and in on the short side to double the Blue Jackets lead.
With the lead Columbus tightened up their defensive play as they blocked six shots and kept the Lightning away from dangerous areas (Columbus won the high-danger battle 3-0).
The third period started with a play that encapsulated the entire game. Ondrej Palat worked hard to get into a scoring area, cut through the crease and drew Korpisalo out of position. No one was guarding the net, but Palat was on his backhand at a bad angle. He tried to fire it through the crease and bounce it off of Boone Jenner, but it went harmlessly by him and Brayden Point’s stick.
Barclay Goodrow and Mikhail Sergachev took back-to-back penalties and Columbus finally scored on the power play, all be it aided by the Lightning. Max Domi fired a shot from the right circle that hit Hedman’s stick and deflected up and over Vasilevskiy’s glove on the short side. Just like that it was 3-0 and the Bolts had to wonder if they would ever catch a break again.
Coach Cooper tried to spark things by pulling the goaltender with over seven minutes to play. A telegraphed pass in the offensive zone was broken up and a blind pass off the boards in the neutral zone didn’t work either and Nick Foligno put the puck in the empty net.
Ross Colton scored, because that’s what Ross Colton does. He’s going to make it hard for the coaching staff to bench him when Mitchell Stephens returns. The rookie was hanging out in a goal-scoring position and when the puck came to him, he didn’t miss. Down 4-1, maybe it was a little too late, but at least they didn’t get shut out.
The Lightning went on the power play shortly after and Coach Cooper opted to pull Vasilevskiy to set up a 6-on-4 which produced some zone time and good looks, but no goals. A late Luke Schenn goal, his first of the season, didn’t change the outcome, but was still nice to see.
Ross Colton (Tyler Johnson, Patrick Maroon) 4-1 Columbus
Luke Schenn (Ryan McDonagh, Patrick Maroon) 4-2 Columbus
Zac Dalpe (Max Domi, Seth Jones) 1-0 Columbus
Jack Roslovic (Cam Atkinson) 2-0 Columbus
Max Domi (Zach Werenski, Jack Roslovic) Power Play 3-0 Columbus
Nick Foligno (Alex Texier) 4-0 Columbus
Empty Net goals get no video!!!