Despite a valiant effort in the third period, the Tampa Bay Lightning were unable to defeat the New Jersey Devils falling 4-2.
The game started rather slowly. The first period was full of back and forth plays on both sides of the ice.
Anders Lindback came up with some amazing saves in the first period.
The only penalty during the first period would come at the hands of the Devils’ Defenseman Adam Larsson with 2 minutes for Interference. Unfortunately, the Lightning Power Play found themselves unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
The second period started quickly. Unfortunately, it was not to the Lightning’s advantage. At 3:28 in the second period, Devils’ center Adam Henrique would find the net with the assists to Anton Volchenkov and Patrik Elias, making the score 1-0 Devils.
The Lightning had another shot at a power play goal when New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador was sent to the box for Delaying the Game as he chipped a puck out of play. The Lightning had a great run at the net, but the shot was blocked by Martin Brodeur as Stamkos was dumped to the ice by Devils’ Defenseman Mark Fayne.
There would be two more penalties in the second period, both to the Devils; first one served by Devils’ RW Krystofer Barch at 13:58 for 2 minutes for Tripping, and the other served by RW Bobby Butler at 16:23 for comments made on the bench (officially ruled as Abuse of Officials) for 2 more minutes.
At 17:34, during the penalty to Butler, Ilya Kovalchuk was able to intercept a bad pass from Lightning Defenseman Sami Salo and fired one past Lindback for a shorthanded goal, making the score 2-1 Devils. The game would remain the same for the remainder of the second period.
The Lightning still found themselves unable to capitalize on the Power Play opportunities handed to them thus far in the game.
In the third period, we saw a very different Lightning. They spent their energies attacking the puck, and making every effort to keep the puck in the Devils’ zone. There was hope of a tying goal, as St. Louis stormed down the ice on a breakaway. Unfortunately, he lost his footing and went sailing down the ice. The puck was quickly recovered by the Devils.
However, the momentum wouldn’t last long. The Devils would not register a single shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the 3rd period; then the penalties started. At 13:29 in the third, a string of questionable penalties would cost the Lightning big.
At 13:29 Martin St. Louis is called for Tripping and sent to the box for 2 minutes. From where I am sitting, St. Louis’ stick hit the player’s glove, and then the player fell. But I guess this is why I am not a referee.
Before the previous penalty could even expire, the Lightning would be charged with yet another penalty. This time, it would be Lightning RW Adam Hall. During his follow through on his attempt to clear the puck from the zone, he is tripped up causing his stick to go high. The referees chose to call the High Stick in lieu of the Trip. This sent Hall to the box for two minutes creating a 5-3 Power Play for the Devils.
As one second ticked off of the clock in the Hall penalty, the refs called an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Bench Penalty against Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher. Yet another 2 minutes in the box for the Bolts.
As the St. Louis penalty would expire, the Bench Penalty would be added to the board. This would be served by Lightning Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Only 14 seconds after the goal by Greene, and still on the Power Play, Elias would fire one past Lindback making the score 4-1 Devils.
At 17:25, the penalties would continue. While Victor Hedman is called to the box for 2 minutes for tripping, Devils center David Clarkson would be called for 2 minutes for Diving. Seems like an unlikely combination of calls, but there you have it. Again, this is probably why I am not a referee.
During the 4 on 4, Lightning Defenseman Matt Carle was able to fire one past Brodeur making this a two goal game.
Despite a few valiant attempts by the Lightning, this would not prove to be enough for them to make a comeback. They ultimately fall to the New Jersey Devils with a score of 4-2.
As much as it pains me to say this, the puck handling and the passing in the first two periods of play were absolutely abysmal. They seemed to get more organized in the third, but maybe this was a case of too little, too late.
The Lightning power play went 0 for 4 in this encounter. With 8 minutes in penalties against the Devils, the Lightning were completely unable to capitalize. Could this have anything to do with Lightning RW B.J. Crombeen being out of commission with a head injury that he sustained at the hands of Philadelphia Flyers center Zac Rinaldo? That remains to be seen.
The Lightning have got to stop falling face first into the penalty trap. They have simply got to watch their step and stop allowing the opportunities for calls to present themselves.
After the game, Coach Boucher was asked if he was frustrated with his team right now, to which he replied quickly with a solid “Nope.” When asked if he was frustrated with the refs, he replied
I will certainly not comment on that.”
Could the Bench Penalty to Boucher have been prevented? Yes. But let’s be honest, in the wake of calls that were questioned even by the commentators, you can’t blame a coach for being upset.
When a member of the media made a comment on how bizarre is was that the 2 penalties came back to back that quickly in the third period, Coach Boucher had this to say,
I didn’t see any penalties. I didn’t see anything. I just watched the video again, I didn’t see anything. I guess I have to look at it another 20 times. But again, I’m not going to comment on the penalties.”
Coach Boucher was asked how he felt about how his team played this game, and he conceded that the Lightning had a much tougher second period than the first.
It was a tight game. Stammer gets an open net and misses it, Marty gets two good opportunities in the slot; they’re working hard, doing good things, but we don’t seem to capitalize on our chances. It’s been hurting us the last three games.”
After a 6-1 start to the season, this road trip has put a quick halt to the Lightning’s season. They have lost 3 of the 4 road games that they have had so far this season; and the third loss in a row for the Lightning.
However, in spite of our recent setback, Coach Boucher still has a positive outlook on the season.
Tomorrow is a new day. Every day is a new day, and that is what’s great about tomorrow. I am pretty sure the sun will come up, and we’ll be in Boston; I like our players, I like our team, and I’m sure we’ll battle through.”
This Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. Hopefully, with a few days off, and plenty of time for rest and practice, we will see a revamped Lightning this Saturday in Boston.
The puck drops at 1pm, and you can catch the game on Sun Sports.