The Tampa Bay Lightning looked uncompetitive in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild in a late Wednesday night game. Andrei Vasilevskiy was a late scratch for the Lightning after suffering an illness, according to the team. Vasilevskiy wasn’t on the bench as Brian Elliott got his second start in as many nights. Zach Bogosian and Vlad Namestnikov also didn’t play on the second half of a back to back with travel. The Lightning went 11/7 instead with Foote and Fleury drawing in.
Joel Eriksson-Ek, Kirill Kaprizov (x2, ENG), Calen Addison, and Sam Steel all scored for the Wild, with the rookie defender Addison getting three points. Matt Boldy also got two assists in the Wild’s win. Filip Gustavsson saved 34 of 35 shots in his win, while Elliott allowed four goals on 32 shots.
Brayden Point scored for the Lightning on the power play for the team’s only goal, but it wasn’t enough as the Wild got to the front of the net more than the Lightning did, consistently won puck battles, and had better goaltending.
The Lightning got the first power play of the game as Greenway got sent to the box for roughing. The first unit struggled to get a shot, but the second had some chances in the dying seconds. It wasn’t enough to beat Filip Gustavsson, though.
Joel Eriksson-Ek got the scoring started for the Wild. Calen Addison shot the puck from the point, Eriksson-Ek was behind the net and threw the rebound towards the scrum in front and it bounced in. Tough puck tracking from Elliott and the Lightning defenders to find the puck and get in it’s path.
Not a good period from the Bolts, who trailed the Wild in shots 15-20. Scoring chances were a little closer, but the Lightning didn’t do enough on their power play to swing the advantage. It seemed whenever the Wild got on a role, the puck never left their possession. The Bolts struggled to break up their groove with intercepted passes, won puck battles, or winning footraces on rushes.
Kirill Kaprizov redirected a point shot from the slot for a power play goal to double the Wild’s advantage. Elliott struggled to react on another redirection shot. Matt Boldy got the assist, with the rookie Addison getting his second point of the night. Stamkos was in the box for tripping at the time.
The rookie Addison made it three points on the night for himself with this shot from the point that Elliott couldn’t see coming with the bodies in front of him. The Wild were peppering the Lightning with shots at this point in the game and at this point it seemed like every chance was going in.
Brayden Point, who has been automatic on the scoreboard for the better part of a month, put the Lightning on the board with his 22nd goal of the season on the power play. The goal came from a brilliant passing play into the zone between himself, Kucherov, and Hagel that resulted in a short-pass one-timer in the slot for Point that found the top corner.
Sam Steel has scored exactly six goals in every season he’s been in the NHL. With this goal he overwrote his career high with his seventh of the season. After three middling seasons in Anaheim, he looks like a revelation in Minnesota. His goal was another tip in front of the net that crossed Elliott up. This shot came from Spurgeon and also went off Cirelli’s leg. I think, but I can’t say for sure. The replay is below, and I guess it doesn’t matter.
Kaprizov tried a shot between his legs after benefitting from an errand pass, but he hit the corner of the post as Elliott was down and out.
The Lightning got a double-minor four-minute power play after Point was high-sticked. The first two minutes were in this period, but the Lightning failed to make a dent, even giving up a shorthanded chance.
A bad, bad, bad period for the Lightning as every chance against them seemed to go in the net. Special teams were about even, so the Lightning leading in shots 14-10 was a positive. They just couldn’t get a save to keep them in it. Two of the goals were deflections where Elliott struggled to make a second effort, while the Addison point shot could go either way. I think a bigger goalie like Vasilevskiy would’ve covered enough of the net to get a piece of it. Elliott looked downright small in the net, even though he’s 6’2”.
Point took a double-shift to open the period, but the Lightning just couldn’t win any puck battles. They were constantly hounded and forced to turn their back to the net in order to protect the puck.
The refs obviously missed a call for puck over glass, and they knew it, but they couldn’t review it to give the Lightning a power play. Common sense lost.
Power play has one second remaining and Minnesota should have been assessed a delay of game penalty thee, but apparently none of the officials saw the puck go out of play without hitting the glass.— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) January 5, 2023
Perry’s head got slammed backwards into the crossbar as Maroon stormed into a scrum in front of the net. To his credit the Wild player, Middleton, was immediately checking on Perry as the Lightning winger went to the back of the bench to get checked.
The Lightning got called for too many men, a penalty the refs did in fact see, with about seven minutes left. I don’t blame the refs too much for their calls, they legally couldn’t give that delay of game penalty and admitted as much to Cooper.
The game seemed to be done as the Lightning started a scrum behind the net when Hagel crosschecked Eriksson-Ek in the neck. Both guys went to the box.
The Lightning pulled the goalie with three minutes left. Matt Dumba made a heavy block on Stamkos, taking a shot off the shoe. Kucherov was in a shooting mood, but Gustavsson had him with the glove.
Colton fumbled the puck at the blueline as the second 6v5 unit came on, giving Kaprizov an empty net goal.
Interesting moment at the end of the game as Marc-Andre Fleury came out for the final two minutes, tying Ed Belfour for fifth on the all-time games played ranking in the NHL. There was speculation Gustavsson suffered an injury on the play before, which is possible but I couldn’t find where it happened. Maybe the Wild knew the game was done and wanted to give Fleury the padded stat. Fleury is now 8 behind Terry Sawchuk and a few hundred behind Brodeur in first.