It went down to the wire, but Tampa Bay lost 2-1 to New Jersey tonight in Newark. The Lightning and Devils played a close, tight game that wasn’t filled with too much excitement. While the Devils are technically still on the outside of the playoff bubble, the trade of Arnott signaled that the team wasn’t taking their chances too seriously.
The result was two teams whose positions are relatively set, and without much to play for, there isn’t going to be much action. Particularly when a team and a system like the Devils are involved. The Bolts need to learn to win more of these low-scoring games going forward.
Tampa opened the scoring four minutes into the second period with a power play goal by Dominic Moore, but Jersey tied it up with under two minutes left in the period. Ilya Kovalchuk would get the game-winner halfway through the third, and the scrappy Devils team can keep the playoff dream alive another day.
This is the beginning of what will be many games the Lightning are going to play against teams with nothing to lose. The Bolts are in the exact opposite position. In fact, the loss caused them to drop into third in the conference behind Boston, and the Capitals are still just three points back for the division lead.
It was an extremely disciplined game with each team only taking two penalties apiece. This brings both good and bad news for the Lightning: good because they only took two penalties, but bad because they didn’t get many PP opportunities. The PP is where they scored their one goal, and with more chances this could have bee a different game.
The lone goal leads into the next concern from tonight’s game: the Lightning didn’t score an even strength goal. There are times when this is going to happen, but it is a dangerous trend to tempt. It is also concerning that they only managed 16 shots for the entire game. This is likely a fluke and a result of their first road trip in over a month, but they need to pick it up tomorrow night in Boston.
1st: Ilya Kovalchuk
2nd: Henrik Tallinder
3rd: Dwayne Roloson
Highlights courtesy of NHL.com