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Game 54 recap: Comeback falls short, Kings beat Lightning 4-2

The Los Angeles Kings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 in Tampa Saturday.

It’s been a long time since the Lightning have lost a game at home, and it happened tonight because of something that hadn’t happened in an even longer time. The team’s record setting consecutive win streak comes to an end at ten games, with their first loss at Amalie Arena since December 9th. And it was because the Bolts found themselves down 3-0 for the first time since a 5-2 loss to the visiting Dallas Stars back on April 5, 2014, a hole to deep to dig out of.

The Kings first goal came early on something of a flukey goal from Tyler Toffoli at 1:33. The puck bounced off the post and the back of starting goaltender Ben Bishop’s leg before crossing the goal line.

They doubled the lead at 12:30 when Kyle Clifford scored off a pretty pass from Trevor Lewis. Jake Muzzin was credited with the secondary assist, his 19th of the season which matches his career high.

What would turn out to be the eventual game winner came with all of 00.4 showing on the clock with Drew Doughty scoring on assists from Robyn Regehr and Anze Kopitar.

The second period began with Andrei Vasilevskiy replacing Bishop in net,

“Yeah, it’s one of those games. I would like to make one of those saves, keep the team in it. Didn’t happen tonight, but you know it’s a long season, so I’m not going to lose sleep over it. Just turn the page and get ready for tomorrow,” – Bishop

Nikita Kucherov got the Lightning on the board at the :58 mark, scoring unassisted, the only goal for either side during the period.

Things got interesting early in the third when Victor Hedman, skating his first shift after serving a Roughing minor, scored on an assist from Ryan Callahan.

With plenty of time remaining, the goal gave the Lightning, who actually had several golden, unconverted scoring opportunities throughout the whole night, an extra boost, and they looked to be on the verge of erasing the early lead and tying things up. However, when Justin Williams scored at 7:46, beating Vasilevskiy high, to swell the margin back to two, the air seemed to leave the entire building, including the Lightning bench. They never recovered the momentum they had built and didn’t come close to scoring another goal.

“We didn’t start the game well obviously, being down 3-0, so you’re not going to win too many games in this league starting behind 3-0. But we never quit and came back, but I think that fourth goal was kind of a back-breaker there for us. We didn’t respond well after that.” – Steven Stamkos

The loss is disappointing beyond the terms of the home winning streak. The Lightning have been extremely effective at home this season and this was one of only four games at Amalie Arena during the month of February. Plus, with the Kings having lost four of their last five games, a record of 2-5-3 in their last ten, an anemic road record of 5-12-6 and goalie Jonathan Quick having a statistically sub-par season (for him), the Lightning appeared to be getting what’s still considered one of the league’s elite teams at its most vulnerable.

The Lightning will be in action again tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 PM when they host another tough Pacific Division opponent, the Western Conference (and NHL) leading Anaheim Ducks,

Game notes:

  • This was the Kings first visit to Amalie Arena since October 15, 2013. The Lightning won that game 5-1 and hold an all-time home record of 7-6-2 against Los Angeles.
  • Tonight was associate coach Rick Bowness’s 2000th game as an NHL coach.
  • The Lightning are now 1-15-1 when trailing after two periods.
  • Today is Steven Stamkos 25th birthday. His teammates pitched in on a shaving cream pie, which was “presented” to him during today’s morning skate.
  • The other streak that ended tonight was Alex Killorn’s four-game points scored (all assists) streak.
  • The Lightning honored Dr. Randy Feldman as the 27th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight’s game. Dr. Feldman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to More Health, Inc., Voices for Children, Tampa Humane Society, St. Vincent House and FARA. Dr. Feldman’s chosen vocation can be summed up in one word: service. As a practicing orthodontist for over 32 years, he has tallied upward of 18,000 hours working pro bono to alleviate cranial-facial, birth defects in more than 3,000 patients. Additionally, he has taken up leadership roles in supporting various non-profit causes, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and 13 Ugly Men, a non-profit organization aimed at hosting events to raise funds for local charities. Dr. Feldman is noted in leading an integral role in the campaign that resulted in Hillsborough County fluoridating its water supply in 1988. He is the President of the Board for More Health Inc., a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that trains instructors to deliver engaging health education lessons to students. In conjunction with Dr. Feldman’s steady community involvement, he operates his own orthodontic practice, Feldman Orthodontics, with two locations in North and South Tampa. In addition to being named tonight’s Lightning Community Hero, Dr. Feldman has been previously recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hillsborough County Dental Association (2011), Health Care Hero for Community Service Award by the Tampa Bay Business Journal (2004 – 2005), and honored as a Guardian Ad Litem for the 13th Judicial District./
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