Nov 21, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) feeds the puck to the center around San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Bolts extend winless streak to three; need two points in Anaheim tonight

The Tampa Bay Lightning wasn’t able to stop the bleeding last night against the San Jose Sharks; instead, the Bolts lost their third straight road game 5-1 at the SAP Center.

Tyler Johnson scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay (his fifth on the year) at 7:39 in the third period.  Ondrej Palat (3) and Richard Panik (9) picked up the assists on the Johnson goal.

Anders Lindback (1-5-0 record as a starter) was between the pipes for the Lightning; serving up a .861 save percentage (saving 26 of 31 shots).

Tampa Bay (14-8-0) is stuck at 28 points in the Eastern Conference, placing them third.

The Boston Bruins have taken sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division, moving ahead of the Bolts with 30 points after beating the St. Louis Blues in OT last night, and now leads the East. The Pittsburgh Penguins have caught up to the party after winning their last two games – the Pens lead the Metropolitan Division with 28 points and are second in the East.

First off, one thing I think has to be acknowledged up front. The Pacific Division, in my opinion, is the toughest and most competitive division in all of the National Hockey League (as most people know). Boston’s 30 points wouldn’t even put it in the top-three of teams in that division, nor in the top-eight in the whole of the Western Conference. It’s that deep over there.

This was going to be a tough road trip for the Lightning with or without Steven Stamkos. Though it goes without saying that his presence could have helped out the Bolts, who have struggled offensively the moment this road trip started, but alas, we cannot make such a thing possible so we’ll never know.

The Bolts are simply just going to have to make due and work within their proven system (read: Cooper’s Law) to find ways to beat these teams.

I have noticed though, over the past three games, that a certain kind of spark; a sense of urgency or tenacity, is missing on every shift.

If the Lightning ever hopes to go toe-to-toe with the Pacific Division on its own turf, and come home with some points to show for it, they have to be hungrier than what I’ve witnessed over this west coast road trip.

And it’s not over yet, as the Lightning face-off tonight at 10 PM against the Anaheim Ducks for the second time this season to conclude this west coast journey through the Pacific Division (a.k.a. the place where winning records go to die a.k.a. Eastern Conference teams enter at your own risk).

The Bolts filleted the Ducks on Nov. 14 to the tune of 5-1; you can bet your bottom dollar the Ducks are chomping at the bit to take Tampa Bay down after that shellacking.

But this time, it’s on their pond, and the Ducks are 8-0-1 at home, which are impressive numbers to say the least.

Hoping to see the Lightning get, at the very least, two more points tonight from the Ducks, before returning to the Bay Area for a three-game home stand against the New York Rangers (Mon. Nov. 25), the Philadelphia Flyers (Wed. Nov. 27) and the Penguins (Fri. Nov. 29).

Maybe a few games back in the Heartland of Thunder will reenergize this hockey club.

I’ll be there on Wed. with my son (his first hockey game!) to see them take on the Flyers, and I will be cheering on my Lightning team with all my heart, and hopefully, all the way back to the top of the standings.

Hope to see the Tampa Bay Times Forum stacked from floor to ceiling with all of you supportive fans – cheering along with me for our Bolts!


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