The Tampa Bay Lightning went into Rexall Place looking to earn their sixth straight road win when they took on the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, despite a valiant comeback in the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t pull the trigger and ultimately fell to the Oilers 5-3.
As usual, the Lightning started this game out with a bang. At just 2:43 into the game, Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov was able to capitalize on a Power Play provided by Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz’ Delay of Game penalty, giving the Lightning the early lead.
Unfortunately, it was the next event that would set this game into a ravaging downward spiral.
At 4:18 in the period, less than 2 minutes after the goal from Kucherov, Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle was able to fire off a wrist shot that found its way past Bishop. However, the bad news did not end there. Directly after that goal, Bishop skated over to the Lightning bench to speak to Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan.
After a short conversation, Bishop skated over to Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper. After another short exchange, Bishop turned and left the ice. He went to the Lightning locker room to undergo further evaluation. Unfortunately, it would be deemed that he could not return to the game.
With the game all tied up, the Lightning would send goaltender Anders Lindback to defend the goal for the Bolts.
At 4:39, center Alex Killorn earned himself a double minor for High Sticking Oiler left wing Ryan Smyth. Just before the end of the first half of the double minor, Eberle was able to capitalize with a snap shot past Lindback giving the Oilers the lead.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, the hemorrhaging did not stop there. With just under 5 minutes left in the period, left wing Luke Gazdic was able to redirect a shot that found its way to the back of the net giving the Oilers a 2 goal lead.
In the second period, we would get a glimpse of the Bolts that we have grown accustomed to lately.
The Bolts would net two goals this period. The first would come at 8:47 in the period with assists from left wing Ondrej Palat and center Tyler Johnson. The next would come at 14:25 when Lightning center Valtteri Filppula would fire off a snap shot that soared past Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, evening the tally for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Unfortunately, the third period would look like a replay of the first. Edmonton was able to score another two goals during the final frame; one from center Boyd Gordon at 8:20 and the other off of a tip-in from left wing Taylor Hall at 10:30.
Despite the Lightning pulling Anders Lindback with a little over 2 minutes left in the period, the Lightning were unable to get any offense going, and ultimately fell to the Edmonton Oilers 5-3.
Tonight, the Lightning outshot the Oiler 27-26. Stat for stat, the Lightning was on par with the Oilers. For some reason, they just could not pull the trigger.
Now, before we all jump to point fingers here, I want you to keep something in mind. Yes, I am sure that there are a few of those goals that Lindback would like to have back. That is a given. Also, one could contest that the Lightning offense decided not to show up in the first and third periods. This is also painfully true. Certainly the defense could have done a better job of blocking shots and getting aggressive against the Oilers’ offense. All of these are very true statements and valid points.
However, this game reminds me of another game the Lightning have played this season. Said game was played on November 11, 2013; the opponent…the Boston Bruins.
Just in case the date doesn’t spark anything in your memory, this is the game. The game in which Lightning center Steven Stamkos crashed into the goal post, fracturing his tibia.
Whether you are a professional athlete or just someone playing beer league hockey, it is hard to keep it together and play at 110% when someone who has been such an integral part of your winning equation sits in the locker room while you have absolutely no idea what is going on.
There had to be a million questions running through their minds. Would Bishop be able to return to the game? How severe is the injury? Will Bishop have to miss time? If so, how much time? These are just a few examples of the things that, at the very least, would have been going through my mind.
Now, is this an excuse for less than stellar play; absolutely not. Despite the events of the night, it is the players’ responsibility to take the ice and give it everything they have. However, it is some perspective as to what may have been going through the team’s minds tonight.
Unfortunately, tonight their best just wasn’t enough.
This may have had something to do with Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Tonight, Bryzgalov stopped 23 of 25 shots brought against him, giving him a Save Percentage of .889. Anders Lindback would not be so lucky. Lindback was able to stop 21 of 25 shots brought against him for a Save Percentage of .840.
While tonight’s overall performance may have been disconcerting, all is not lost.
The good news is, there are still 40 more games left this season. That is 40 more opportunities to put up a win and earn their two points.
What we need to do right now is learn from the mistakes that were made tonight, evaluate what we can do to not repeat them, and get ready to face Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
Three Stars of the Game:
What do you think the Bolts need to take away from tonight’s game in order to get back on track? Who do you think the Bolts need to keep their eyes on when they head into Winnipeg? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.