Lightning collapse in the third, drop 5-3 loss to Arizona

The Tampa Bay Lightning inexplicably let one of the league’s worst teams score three unanswered goals during a decisive final period to lose their third game in a row.

The Arizona Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday nights.

Losing three in a row in late March is no way to Push For The Playoffs. Especially when the latest loss comes at home to one of the NHL’s weakest teams. That’s not intended to be disrespectful to the Coyotes, but a statement of fact; Arizona came into tonight’s game with the second lowest point total in the league and they’ll leave with two more but with that distinction intact.

“There’s been a lot of frustrating games this year. This ranks up there though just with how important the game is to us. That 3-2 lead at home going into the third in a must-win for us. To give it up like we did, it’s frustrating to say the least.” - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

Arizona opened the scoring at 4:56 of the first when Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was caught fumbling the puck behind his net and couldn’t get back in time to stop Christian Fischer from scoring the third goal of his NHL career on his third shot in the NHL, tapping in a pass from Lawson Crouse. Josh Jooris collected the secondary assist.

The Lightning tied it up at 9:45 when Nikita Kucherov sprung Victor Hedman on a breakaway during a four-on-four.

The teams went into the first intermission knotted at one.

The Coyotes re-took the lead at 10:06 of the second, when Christian Dvorak scored on a wrist shot, getting assistance from Max Domi and Connor Murphy.

Less than two minutes later at 11:50, Kucherov scored on an assist from Ondrej Palat to tie it again.

They took the lead for the first time at the 18:08 mark, with Vladislav Namestnikov scoring on an assist from Jonathan Drouin.

The Lightning held the 3-2 advantage heading into the third period. That’s when Arizona took over, dominating play at both ends.

“I think we stopped skating, turned the pucks over and didn’t block shots. The goals went in... All we had to do was defend in the third, and we didn’t do that. We let it slip away ourselves.” - Namestnikov

The Coyotes would tie it once again 4:54 into the third when Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored on assists from Domi and Anthony Duclair.

They would pull back out in front at 13:21 when Radim Vrbata scored on a slap shot. Alex Goligoski and Ekman-Larsson got the assists.

At 18:24, Murphy scored a shorthanded empty netter to finish things off.

The Lightning will now travel to Boston to play the Bruins Thursday night.