Tampa Bay Lightning Game 65: at the Montréal Canadiens
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Montréal Canadiens 5-3.
This game seemed much closer than it actually was. The Lightning put in a good effort, but they still came up short. There was good energy, however. And this was probably the cleanest game that I've seen this season in terms of penalties taken.
Which isn't to say that it wasn't physical. Mattias Ohlund was back to form dishing out the big hits. That hasn't been seen from him in a while. The hit on Tomas Plekanec laid the poor guy out, tho he came back to finish up the game. Probably got the wind knocked out of him, I suppose. It was kind of a scary hit since it was close to being a knee-on-knee situation. Luckily it wasn't, and everyone ended up okay.
Steven Stamkos continued on his scoring tear. He now has points in his last 17 games, which is a new Lightning record. But on top of that, he has set the record for most power play goals in a single season by a Lightning player, with 17 of them.
Matt Walker scored his first goal of the season as well.
Antero Niittymaki was replaced by Mike Smith after letting in four goals in 13 shots. Since the Olympic break, and even a bit before that, Niittymaki hasn't been playing as well as earlier in the season. I'm sure not playing in any games for the entire Olympics didn't help matters any. And, of course, part of the problem is the defense, which has been an inconsistent spot with the team all season.
This was the sixth time in seven games where the Lightning have allowed five or more goals. That's not a good thing, and at this point it's the entire team that's at fault. The defense has had its problems, and the goaltenders haven't been as sharp, but the forwards aren't supplying much help, either. Defensively, the entire team needs to buckle down and play better.
Vincent Lecavalier tried his best to get his team going. He didn't have the best night in the faceoff circle, only winning 36% of his faceoffs, but he was doing a lot of other things to compensate for that. He had a game-best eight shots on goal, had two hits, a blocked shot, a steal, and he was skating hard the entire game. There was a scary moment where it looked like he'd tweaked a knee - he came limping off the ice - but thankfully he was able to finish the game alright.
Ryan Malone and Zenon Konopka sat this game out due to injuries. After the awkward hit on Martin St. Louis the previous game, and with so little information available about his status, it wasn't necessarily a sure thing that St. Louis was going to play this game. Luckily, he was able to, and he also played well.
The next game is Thursday, 11 March, versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. Let's leave this losing streak at one game, okay?
Lightning vs Canadiens coverage [SB Nation]
Habs Eyes On The Prize [SB Nation Montréal Canadiens site]
Lightning vs Canadiens recap [TSN]