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Game 65 recap: A whole lot of deja vu in Lightning’s 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix

The Phoenix Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Monday night.

There’s an idiom that goes back a long, long ways that states “familiarity breeds contempt”. If that’s true, and it most likely is, it’s easy to understand why Lightning fans are feeling contemptuous.

  • Second consecutive 4-3 score
  • Second consecutive shootout loss
  • Another loss in spite of a significant statistical edge in shots (31-20)
  • Another blown lead (actually, two of them)
  • Another fluky/soft goal allowed
  • Another chance to gain ground against a less-than-elite opponent
  • Another home game down the tubes/

“Some teams have kind of gone in the tank and some teams have taken off. I don’t have the answer for that. I would never have suspected the results we’re getting.” – Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

Both teams came into this game hoping to reverse their recent fortunes, With Phoenix having lost four of their last six and just on the outside of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference and Tampa Bay having lost nine of their last twelve while clinging to a wildcard spot in the East, it was expected that both teams would come out with something to prove. However, after the last two home games, one being the first after the tumultuous trade deadline and the other against the hated Boston Bruins, there was a comparative lack of energy in the building. Whether that was the crowd feeding the players or vice-versa is debatable but things seemed to start off pretty quietly, especially considering what was at stake..

The Lightning got things started on a shorthanded goal from Tyler Johnson at 11:26, his 20th goal of the season. He was assisted by Ondrej Palat and Eric Brewer. That lead would hold up for the remainder of the period.

At 1:01 of the second, Phoenix tied it for the first time when Brandon McMillan scored on assists from Keith Yandle and Shane Doan.

The Lightning regained the lead late in the period, with Palat getting helpers from Ryan Callahan and Keith Aulie at 19:07. They would carry that 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Tonight’s problematic, fluky goal occurred at 2:13 of the third when Ben Bishop lost track of the puck after it bounced off the end boards behind him. Looking for it to his right, it actually hit the net on his left side. Phoenix’s Martin Erat picked it up and dropped it in the net for his second goal of the season.

“I thought we could have controlled it, you know, make the D to D pass behind the net, have the goaltender follow the puck. It was way too lackadaisical.” – Cooper

Phoenix took their first lead at the 7:48 mark on a four-on-four. Mikkel Boedker scored with help from Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek.

The Lightning salvaged the night somewhat, with Palat tying the game with 37 seconds left and an empty net behind him, sending the game into overtime and picking up a point. Valtteri Filppula and Callahan were credited with assists on the play.

Once again, the ensuing overtime settled nothing and once again only one skater in the shootout was able to score. This time, it was former Lightning forward Radim Verbata driving the nail into the Lightning’s shootout coffin.

“I guess post-Olympic, the well’s gone dry on the shootout a little bit for us when we used to do pretty well in them.” – Cooper

The Lightning next chance to snap the skid comes on Thursday when they will host the Florida Panthers

Game notes:

  • This was third straight game the Lightning have scored a shorthanded goal.
  • Johnson is now tied for the league lead in shorties this season with four.
  • As a team, the Lightning have scored nine shorthanded goals this season. They didn’t score any in the 2012-13 season.
  • The last time the Lightning beat the Coyotes at home was February 23, 2011.
  • This is the first of back-to-back games versus Team Canada goalies (Mike Smith tonight, Roberto Luongo Thursday).
  • The Lightning honored Bob Memoli as the 30th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight’s game. Memoli, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Center of Independence, Pasco Education Foundation/Take Stock in Children, American Cancer Society, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Memoli is extremely involved in the Tampa Bay community. He has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for several organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Take Stock in Children, Center for Independence, Trinity and the Rotary Club of Seven Springs. One of Memoli’s most significant accomplishments is his mentoring of a local student, Brendan Gorman, who he took under his wing since seventh grade. Gorman comes from a poor family and hasn’t known his dad since the age of two. Memoli mentored him and now Gorman is in his first semester of Law School at Barry in Orlando. Giving of himself, Memoli has set up education scholarships for under privileged children. Through leadership Pasco, where Memoli serves on the board, he assists in the education process that he believes is the key to creating a better world. He has organized fundraisers for education for persons of all ages and abilities.

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