Game 17: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Minnesota Wild
Tonight, in a disappointing round between the Tampa Bay Lighting and the Minnesota Wild, the Lightning lost 4-1.
It's easy to look at the score, 4-1, and question what happened, what went wrong., not to mention the context, coming off a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, and losing 5-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
What went wrong? Nothing.
Yes, Tampa Bay took a slow start to the game. Minnesota opened the scoring seven minutes in with Cal Clutterbuck's power play goal, his sixth of the season. There was a moment of hope, when Martin St. Louis evened the scoring on the Lightning power play, Tampa's only rewarded opportunity of the night. The goals did, as they usually do, create a spike of momentum, but Minnesota got the better end of the deal with an even strength goal from John Madden, followed by Antti Miettinen's goal at the end of the first, raising the score 3-1 Minnesota.
The Lightning ended the first period with 16 shots on goal, compared to Minnesota's six.
Tampa Bay continued fighting in the second period, with nine more registered shots on goal. Dan Ellis aided the team, blocking all of Minnesota's shots on goal for a scoreless period. Eric Nystrom notched 4 for Minnesota with an empty net goal at the end of the game, for the 4-1 Minnesota win.
The Lightning finished the game with 38 shots on goal, more than double Minnesota's 18, but tonight, nothing worked.
Head Coach Guy Boucher had no strong criticism for the team.
"That's what has been happening lately. It's our current theme right now. We can't buy a goal. We're getting all the chances, we just can't buy a goal, and everything seems to happen against us."
Advice from Boucher and more, after the jump.
The only thing to do, according to Boucher, is to maintain the focus and strategy.
"The danger here is wanting to start panicking, and wanting to change everything. I've seen this my whole career. Later on, all of the sudden, the same chances, you do the same thing, and all of the sudden it just goes in. It's hard to explain, but it's something we're living right now."
Steven Stamkos said afterwards that it isn't losing, but it's not getting rewarded for the hard work.
"You've just got to realize that we're playing the right way....That's the tough part is not changing what we believe in because it's not working."
As for filling the gap without Vincent Lecavalier, it's going to be tough, missing the captain on the ice. That situation will require work, and muscle, but the team will persevere.
The opportunities are there, they just aren't coming through. With time, that will change. From Boucher down, the message is the same: keep up the hard effort until it works. At some point, it's bound to work.
"It's adversity, and you've got to embrace it. You've got to embrace it, because if you don't have adversity during the season, by the end you can't live with adversity."
Getting through this will be a dose of what it takes to make it to the end.
Next: After tonight's quick stop in Tampa, the Lightning will hit the road for the next three games, facing the New York Islanders on Wednesday, November 17th, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, November 18th, and the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, November 20. Locals, make sure you check out the local watch parties near you!
Wild vs Lightning coverage [Game Page]
Hockey Wilderness [SB Nation]
Wild vs Lightning recap [TSN recap]
Wild vs Lightning boxscore [TSN boxscore]