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Lightning lose late-night affair to Los Angeles, 4-2

Well, at least Nikita Kucherov no longer has zero goals

Tampa Bay Lightning v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Tuesday night’s game with a 10-game winning streak against the Los Angeles Kings. By the end of the night, that streak was over. The Kings doubled up the Bolts with a 4-2 victory. Brandon Hagel and Nikita Kucherov (Yay!) scored for the Lightning while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves on 33 shots.

For the first time this year, the Lightning went with an 11-7 rotation with Cole Koepke scratched and Haydn Fleury back in the line-up for the first time in three games. The Bolts went 0-for-4 on the power play with just 3 shots on goal.

First Period:

The Lightning’s first line has some nice pressure with Brandon Hagel’s pass just behind a wide open NIkita Kucherov in the slot. Kuch just can’t catch a break in the goal-scoring department these days because he would have been in a prime spot if that pass had connected.

Los Angeles goes on the power play first as Mikhail Sergachev whacked Arthur Kaliyev in, and almost through, his visor. The trend established in the last two games continued as the Lightning killed things off rather easily and even had a nice chance short-handed as Hagel ripped a shot right into Jonathan Quick’s glove.

A few minutes later the Kings opened the scoring with a lucky bounce and some netfront determination. They were able to keep the puck in the zone and cycled it around. An initial shot looked like it was going wide but hit Brayden Point in the back and dropped in front of the crease. Gabe Vilardi whacked at it a couple of times and Phil Danault poked it across the line as Nick Perbix buried Vilardi into the net. There was never a definitive signal from the refs, but after a quick look it was ruled a good goal.

Philip Danault (Gabe Vilardi, Mikey Anderson) 1-0 Kings

A rather uneventful power play came and went for the Lightning. Things are starting to regress a bit to the mean in that department, but luckily they’ve found their 5v5 offense in time.

Kucherov made a nice pass through the neutral zone to find Sergachev on the left side of the ice. Sergy tried to saucer a pass to Hagel who had inside position on Brandt Clarke in the slot. The pass was ahead of Hagel and looked to be heading harmlessly into the corner, but Quick decided poke check it and it hit Hagel in the pads. The forward was able to flip it in on the backhand. A really nice play off of a lucky break.

Brandon Hagel (unassisted) 1-1

Some four-on-four time, some power play time for each side and the period drew to a close knotted at one goal a piece. Thanks in part to a butt save by Cal Foote:

Overall a fairly even period with L.A. having the slightest of edges in some of the possession stats. A positive sign is that the Lightning were only dinged with one giveaway in the period.

Second Period

The first five minutes were going swimmingly for the Lightning. Solid play in the neutral zone and aggressive puck hounding in the offensive zone bottled up the Kings. Unfortunately Quick made a few nice saves, including one on a blast from Perbix.

On one of the few forays into the Lightning zone, L.A. forced a turnover by Patrick Maroon. Vasy and Ian Cole managed to deny a point blank chance, but Cole was called for tripping in the corner. The Kings won the face-off, Drew Doughty unleashed a slapper from the point that Vilardi tipped up and over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder.

Gabriel Vilardi (Drew Doughty, Kevin Fiala) Power Play, 2-1 Kings

The Lightning pushed back and kept things interesting. They have been really clean through the neutral zone so far and it’s allowed them space in the offensive zone. They just can’t seem to find the back of the net.

Ross Colton had a one-timer blocked and things get scrambly going back to the Lightning zone. There was some open ice and it’s a two-on-one down low. Cole was caught in the middle and can’t stop the backdoor pass from Brandt Clark. Blake Lizotte had a tap-in goal to make it 3-1.

Blake Lizotte (Brandt Clarke, Arthur Kaliyev) 3-1 Kings

The Lightning immediately answered as Victor Hedman turned in the slot and wristed one past Quick. Wait, wait, don’t tell me. There was a challenge. Corey Perry was on the wrong side of the blue line on the entry. A quick review negated the goal.

L.A. carried the play the rest of the period, but weren’t able to tack on any more goals. The late push evened things up in the possession stats, but for most of it, the Lightning were kind of dictating play, just couldn’t get it in the net.

Third Period

The Lightning needed an early goal to put some doubt into the minds of a L.A. team that has struggled to close out games. A 40-second five-on-three seemed like a good chance for that to happen, but it was to no avail.

Enlivened by the successful kill, the Kings started to pick up their physical games as Ian Cole, Nikita Kucherov, and Ross Colton were all sent to the ice with big hits in quick succession. Kucherov, who had received more than his fair share of hits behind the play barked at the officials as he limped off the ice.

Cole went to the box as he got his knee out on Kaliyev. The Lightning killed off the penalty but two precious minutes ticked off the clock. Anze Kopitar was robbed by Vasilevskiy right after, not quite as dramatic as the behind the back save, but still pretty good.

Sensing a need for some offense, Coach Cooper put Stamkos, Kucherov, and Point together with Sergachev and Hedman on the back-end. It didn’t pay off. With the big guns resting, the Kings put back-to-back two-on-one rushes together. Vasilevskiy stoned Adrian Kempe on the first one, but Kempe blistered one off the pipe and in on his second chance.

Adrian Kempe (Anze Kopitar) 4-1 Kings

With 2:38 to go Vasilevskiy went to the bench for the extra skater. After a big slapper from Stamkos was swallowed up by Quick, they got a break on the ensuing face-off. During the scramble the Kings couldn’t contain it and the puck trickled to Kucherov. His quick wrister was knocked up into the air by Quick, fell behind him and across the goal line.

Nikita Kucherov (unassisted) 4-2 Kings

Quick would make big saves on Stamkos and Kucherov to hold off the last desperate charge. Natural Stat Trick had the Lightning getting absolutely dominated in possession in the final 20 minutes - shot attempts 17-3, Scoring Chances 9-1, High-Danger Chances 3-0 - all in favor of L.A.

Good-bye to the two-game winning streak. Off to Anaheim for another late night tilt tomorrow.