Recap: an Odyssey on penalties, the Bruins, and what’s not working with the Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning got punked, then got out-played.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost their third game in a row on this road trip by a score of 2-1 at the hands of the league’s best Boston Bruins. Patrice Bergeron and Garnet Hathaway scored for the Bruins, with Victor Hedman scoring the lone response in the loss. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 of 34 in the regulation loss (on three expected goals against), while Linus Ullmark allowed only one goal on 27 shots (on two expected goals against).
This game started with some nonsense and ended with 38 penalty minutes with almost a third of the game spent on special teams. And on top of having the lion’s share of the power play opportunities, the Bruins also won at 5v5, out-shooting the Lightning 33-42 in 40 minutes of play.
It was dramatic, there was a lot. What follows is nearly 2000 words. I’ll just let you read it, enjoy.
On the penalties, Refs, and Bruins
Here is me saying my peace on all the penalties in the first period and the refs either making it about them or targetting the referees. The cold hard reality is that the Bruins did this to the Lightning. They poked the Lightning players and the Lightning players overreacted. That’s how the Bruins win, and they won by one goal, scored when Pat Maroon was in the penalty box for jawing at the Bruins. Can you imagine that penalty? Because the Bruins can, because they know how to incite such a reaction. The Lightning do this to plenty of teams, I’m shocked they got duped into it themselves.
It wasn’t a Ref Show. It was a Boston Show.
Maroon got the game started with a big fight against Garnet Hathaway. That altercation was sparked from Ross Colton and Jakub Lauko fighting and wrestling at center ice. Paul dropped one glove to get in the action, but he covered Clifton instead as Maroon and Hathaway squared off in the main event (main sideshow, because this was still technically a hockey game).
When the smoke cleared, Maroon and Hathaway were in the box for five minutes each. Colton and Lauko each got two minutes for roughing, but Colton got the extra two for roughing, for I guess instigating.
Drop the puck, drop the gloves. pic.twitter.com/wEKXd0EhVg— Bally Sports Sun: Lightning (@BallyLightning) March 25, 2023
This put the Lightning on the back foot to start the game as the Bruins got a power play right away. Each side got a shot in the 4v5 for the Lightning, but it was the next two penalties that made things even more difficult for Tampa Bay.
That penalty was Tanner Jeannot going to the box for interference on Connor Clifton less than a minute after the first penalty ended. He bowled into the corner, knocking down Ulmark and hitting Clifton, as advertised. But then his crosscheck into the back of Clifton away from the puck booked him for a penalty.
That was the first penalty. The second was after the whistle blew and as Maroon and Hathaway were skating back to their benches from the box. As a reminder, players with major penalties don’t come back onto the ice during live play, but once there’s a stoppage so they can safely get back to the bench.
As soon as Maroon got to the bench he was jawing at the Bruins bench and he clearly said something near the ref (Chris Rooney) that earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. From what I could see from the broadcast it looked like he had gotten a warning already by the ref and then went over the line. This is his second game in a row with an unsportsmanlike penalty.
One thing that instigated this was Pastrnak throwing his weight on Hagel during the power play and four Lightning players shoved him around in return. That caused a stir that I’m sure Sheriff Pat noticed.
The back to back (to back) penalties eventually overtook the Lightning and they allowed the opening goal after being peppered with 10 shots by the Bruins power play. Patrice Bergeron with the goal in front of the net battling Hedman. The puck went off him, sent into the area by Marchand who was coming down the wing.
What’s important about all these penalties early was that the Lightning stars had barely been out on the ice for more than a minute at even strength, while the Bruins top players already had three plus minutes on the ice in advantageous positions.
Sorry about using the Bruins broadcast, I couldn’t find another one.
So, after that whole game’s worth of drama, we continue with the remaining 53 minutes in this hockey game. Oh wait, no. We’re not done.
Tanner Jeannot with yet another penalty, this time high sticking. He couldn’t control himself yet again as he hit Krejci into the boards, but then smacked him with his stick on a second follow through. This penalty was a double minor as Krejci was bleeding after.
Pick your damn battles, dude.
HEDDY! Fortunately, the Lightning got on the board with a shorthanded goal during the Jeannot penalty. It was actually a beautiful goal! Bellemare and Killorn got the puck out of the zone and went forward with it for a bit. Killorn’s pass to Bellemare didn’t quite work, but it was deflected perfectly into Hedman’s path. He teed up a big slapper and found the top corner under the bar to tie the game at one. His shot first deflected off the defender’s stick, then Ullmark’s glove, and up under the roof of the net. His eighth goal of the season.
The Lightning got power plays in the second half of the period, with McAvoy and Hathaway going to the box at different times. The first power play ended the four-minute penalty kill early and gave the teams some 4v4 hockey.
The Lightning got one shot on each power play, but the Bruins had two shots themselves as the stars clearly looked like they weren’t in the rhythm of the game. And how can you blame them as the entire first half was with the Lightning shorthanded.
All told, the Tampa Bay Lightning only saw 10 minutes of play in that period where they could put their stars on the ice (most of it being even strength). That severely limited their ability to affect the game, compared to the Bruins who had 15 minutes either at even strength or on power plays of their own. Those differences matter when the game is about the stars.
At the end of the day, the first period was very fortunate to the Lightning as they found a way to come out of it still tied, and made it possible to have a mental reset for the rest of the game.
Shots were 5-10 at the end of the period.
The Lightning were organized at the start of the period, getting two shots on the tail end of the last penalty in the first period.
It should be said that the Lightning spent a lot of the first five minutes of the period in their own zone. That’s more of an eye-test thing than having any data to back that claim up.
A lot of the Lightning’s chances didn’t contain any rebounds or second attempts. The Bruins had the Lightning locked out of the front of the net and Ullmark was controlling rebounds well.
Shots were 6-15 at one point.
Kucherov made a good zoen entry through the middle that backed all the Bruins up. Eventually the puck got to Darren Raddysh who jumped into the zone. He whiffed on his shot, but was able to keep the puck and skate it around to the far post and nearly got the wraparound. Hagel drew a tripping penalty on Carlo.
This was when the Lightning got a 5v3 power play when McAvoy took a high sticking penalty in the slot on Nick Paul.
The Lightning maybe got one shot during the 5v3 but it was only right at the tail end. They lost the faceoff and the zone to start, and the Kucherov tried one pass too many (even though he was completely alone and his two passing partners (Stamkos and Point) had guys right up on them. The pass from Kucherov to Stamkos was blocked by Bergeron and it was a footrace the other way. Stamkos recovered the puck at the blueline
As they got back into the zone, Hagel got slashed on the hands several times, and I think you could hear Stamkos or another player ask the ref “how many” referring to how many penalties won’t be called on the Bruins.
The penalties were killed, and we got a few more minutes of 5v5 until...
Stamkos slashes Jake DeBrusk and takes a penalty. Nine seconds later, DeBrust slashes Erik Cernak and takes a penalty. That gave the two teams almost two minutes of 4v4 hockey. The Lightning looked good here, getting two shots in quick succession on Ullmark. Vasilevskiy made a good save on the one shot the Bruins got during their nine seconds of power play time off the rush.
Garnet Hathaway scored on the rebound from a point shot by Gryzlak completely alone in front of Vasilevskiy. Hathaway actually got stick on puck twice, by tipping the initial shot and getting his hands on the rebound. Cernak was the one who lost his man.
The power plays and even strength hockey brought the Lightning back to within two shots on goal in the game, but the Hathaway goal that started a poor end to the period left it on a sour note. Shots in the second ended up being 23-18 for the Lightning, but 11-11 on net.
The first half of the third period was disappointing for the Lightning as the Bruins held the shots advantage and controlled the play for the first 10 minutes. Vasilevskiy needed to make a huge save on Pasternak who was left all alone on his left wing right at the end of that period.
The Lightning pushed back a little bit, but all the antics were off the table as they were down by a goal and needed to focus on hockey rather than sideshows.
The first line, and namely Hagel had a couple huge chances, but couldn’t hit the net as Ullmark was sprawling all over the ice to cover angles. The Lightning had chances to tie the game, they definitely did.
The Bolts pulled the goalie with a few minutes left, and had some chances, but couldn’t tie the game late.