Monday night the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Ottawa Senators at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Those of you who saw the game, and more specifically those of you who were there, know that this was one of the toughest games to watch the entire season. Despite turning on the afterburners in the third period, the Lightning eventually fell to the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in the shootout.
Now, on the positive side here, the Bolts were able to take this encounter all the way to the shootout, so they did not walk out of the Forum with nothing.
At the end of the day, one point is better than none.
The Lightning have been able to bring home a minimum of one point in their last nine encounters; however, if the Bolts want to continue playing hockey at the end of April, they are going to have to find a way to start bringing home two points a night.
A goal from Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson would set the tone for the game, giving the Senators the early lead. Karlsson would pick up another point in this matchup with an assist on a goal from Senators captain Jason Spezza early in the second period.
The young guns of the Lightning were definitely on it in this encounter. Just after the Karlsson goal in the first, Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov would fire off a wrist shot that would tie the game for the Bolts. The assists on the goal would go to center Tyler Johnson and right wing J.T. Brown.
Just forty four seconds after the Spezza goal in the second, the Sens would strike again with a goal from center Kyle Turris, giving the Sens a two goal lead.
At 11:58 in the second period, Senators left wing Milan Michalek would find himself in the box for two minutes for tripping Lightning center Tom Pyatt. It would defenseman Victor Hedman who would capitalize on the power play opportunity with slapshot that would find its way to the back of the net. The assists on the Hedman goal would go to center Valtteri Filppula and left wing Ondrej Palat.
As I said before, the Lightning seemed to turn on the afterburners in the third period.
I would be willing to venture that the moment of the night is the goal by Lightning captain Steven Stamkos in the third period. The Lightning were moving the puck in the offensive zone, when the puck went for the net. Senators goaltender Robin Lehner would make the stop, and Ondrej Palat would tap the rebound; however, it would be Steven Stamkos who would hit the home run (quite literally) for the goal.
Initially, the referees waived off the goal, claiming that the goal was scored with a high stick. In all my years of going to Lightning games, I have never seen the crowd react quite like this. After the replay was shown on Lightning Vision, the crowd erupted into a sea of boos, which was quickly followed up by the chant “It’s a goal!”
As it turns out, the crowd was right, and after a call to Toronto the referees did one of the few things they did right that night and deemed Stamkos’ tip-in a goal.
Unfortunately, that would be the end of the line for the Bolts in terms of scoring. They would survive the overtime period only to be outdone in the shootout.
My biggest concern throughout this entire game wasn’t so much the Lightning’s play, even though there are some loose ends that need to be tied up before we hit the post season, but it was the inconsistent officiating that evening.
Between the phantom hook that wasn’t really there, the mugging of Ryan Malone, the double minor to Gudas, and the countless missed tripping (some two feet in front of the ref) calls, missed interference calls, and everything else, it was just a madhouse in the Forum.
When your team has earned their loss, that is one thing, but when they are getting dogged left and right and there is no one to police the players, the players begin policing themselves, and this is when people get hurt.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hockey fight as much as the next person; however, in situations like these, things tend to get out of control, and they hardly ever end well for anyone.
Unfortunately, until the NHL decides to step up and do something about it, things are not going to change. However, I am going to step off of my soapbox for right this minute as this is another story for another day.
Now, the Tampa Bay Lightning need to collect themselves and get ready to move on to the next game. On Thursday night, the Lightning will host the New York Islanders in an Eastern Conference showdown with John Tavares and the New York Islanders.
What are your thought on the Senators game. What do you think the Lightning could have done differently that may have resulted in a win? More interestingly, what are your thoughts on the officiating situation? Let us know what you think in the comments below.