Bolts Salvage One Point During Weekend

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 26: Mike Smith of the Tampa Bay Lightning allows a goal during the second period of the game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on November 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Following a five game winning streak, the Tampa Bay Lightning headed into a Thanksgiving weekend with two big games against Southeast Division rivals. With games against the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers, it was a good time for the Lightning to make a statement for the 2010-11 season. But when the smoke cleared, the Bolts came away with just one point.

Black Friday’s game at Verizon Center was an utter and complete domination by the Capitals. Alexander Semin’s natural hat trick in the second period blew open a 2-0 contest and staked Washington to a 5-0 lead after two, and the Caps never looked back from that point forward.
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 26: Dan Ellis replaces Mike Smith of the Tampa Bay Lightning skate in the second period of the game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on November 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Mike Smith started Friday’s game for Tampa Bay, but was pulled after Semin’s second goal made it 4-0. Smith had stopped just 14 of the 18 shots. Dan Ellis didn’t fare much better, as he was greeted by Semin’s hat trick goal less than three minutes later. Semin has feasted on the Bolts this season, scoring six goals and eight points in only two games against the Lightning. Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov faced only 17 Tampa shots in just his second game after returning from injury to record his first shutout of the year. The special teams had a bad game, as Tampa Bay failed to score in five man advantage chances, and yielded two power play goals to the Capitals – both scored by Semin. There weren’t too many bright spots for the Bolts. As a matter of fact, this one could be filed under total loss. It’s a game that the team needs to forget for the sake of their collective psyche, but will need to use to prepare for their next meeting with the division-leading Capitals on January 4th. It is a date that Guy Boucher should have circled on his calendar. Yesterday’s matchup with the Panthers at St. Pete Times Forum was another big game for the Lightning. Tampa Bay had beaten Florida in both ends of a home-and-home series to end the pre-season, but the Panthers beat up on the Bolts 6-0 in their only meeting of the regular season on October 16th in Miami.
UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers makes a save at a hockey game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on November 20, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Florida netminder Tomas Vokoun had stopped all 29 shots that he faced in the October 16th contest, and would prove tough to solve in the end for the Lightning on this day.

Boucher held to his usual practice by going with Ellis. In previous games where he has pulled the starter, he came back with the reliever between the pipes as the starter in the next game.

Goals by Teddy Purcell and Dana Tyrell gave Tampa a 2-0 lead midway through the contest, but a Radek Dvorak shorthanded tally on a penalty shot brought Florida to within a goal heading into the third.

The Lightning would dominate the third period, outshooting the Panthers 14-4. But it was Tampa Bay that found themselves in need of an equalizer, as Florida got goals from both Dmitry Kulikov and Shawn Matthias to take a 3-2 lead midway through the frame.

Sean Bergenheim would score on his own rebound at the 13:15 mark, eventually sending the game into overtime.

Tampa Bay held a wide advantage in regulation shots on goal, 37-21. Vokoun was excellent in getting the Panthers to overtime, but it was Ellis who would be called upon to come up big in the extra period.

Florida took all six shots in overtime but Ellis stopped them all to send the contest to the shootout, which would be the first of the season for the Lightning.

After three scoreless rounds, Stephen Weiss beat Ellis with a backhander to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Vokoun then stopped Martin St. Louis‘ wrist shot attempt, securing the extra point for Florida.

On the downside, the Bolts gained just one of a possible four points in the two games. But on the bright side, Tampa still remains in second place in the Southeast. They are five points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals and four ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers, and sit in the fifth spot in the conference.

Boucher will have a couple of days with which to work with his club before they head to the Great White North to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Center.

In addition to working on the basics, he may have to help the team with their confidence level.

Bolts Bits: In addition to his first period goal, Purcell also earned an assist on Bergenhiem’s game-tying goal. Purcell now has five goals and 17 points, good for third on the Lightning…Steven Stamkos ended the night with an assist, but Sidney Crosby had a hat trick and now leads the NHL scoring race. Crosby now has 40 points, one point ahead of Stamkos. Stamkos now leads in goals over Crosby, 21-18…Ellis stopped 24 of 27 Panthers shots in regulation and overtime, and three of four in the shootout Saturday.

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Tags: Alexander Semin Guy Boucher Martin St Louis National Hockey League NHL Sidney Crosby Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals

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