The weekend started off dramatically with a comeback win in Buffalo on Saturday against the Sabres before ending, not with a bang, but a whimper of sorts (despite cutting the Red Wings’ lead to a goal in the trailing minutes of the third period), with a loss in Detroit on Sunday, as the Tampa Bay Lightning took home two points out of a possible four from a mini back-to-back weekend road trip.
Sunday’s loss to the Red Wings also saw the end of the 11-game point streak the Bolts had sustained from as far back at Mar. 8. The loss also prevented the Lightning from a season sweep of the Wings, which would have been pretty freaking cool, and stopped a mini-winning streak at two games.
And to add more insult to injury, the loss further prevented the Bolts from taking two more points of the six required to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Annnnnnnnnnd…if that wasn’t enough, the Lightning, unfortunately, in losing to the Wings, gave the team, one of the trailing teams in the Atlantic Division behind the Bolts, and the No. 1 wildcard team at the moment in the Eastern Conference, two more points to gain some ground on them. Detroit sits seven points behind the Bolts with 84 points.
Tampa Bay remains two points back of the Montreal Canadiens (93) in third place in the Atlantic with 91 points.
Boston has meanwhile clinched the division with 110 points.
The Bolts play Montreal tomorrow and, if I do say so myself, it is one of, if not THE, biggest game left on the regular reason docket. If Tampa Bay wins in regulation, with a game in hand, they will tie the Habs in points, but reclaim second in the division (second in the division guarantees home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs).
If they lose, well…lets not even entertain that concept. The Bolts have created a lot of momentum and success during the past few weeks of the 11-game points streak. With Detroit that much closer, and playing the kind of hockey they’re known for at the tail end of the regular season, and Montreal getting points routinely: this would be the worst time possible for the Lightning to start losing games.
It’s full steam ahead: Play the games like it’s already the playoffs. And for me, the playoffs start tomorrow, at home, against the Lightning’s likely first round contender: the Montreal Canadiens.