I think it is safe to say that this is not how the Tampa Bay Lightning planned for their first venture into the Stanley Cup Playoffs since their epic run in the 2010-11 season. Unfortunately, the Lightning dropped their second game in a row to the Montreal Canadiens as they fell 4-1 on Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The game started out pretty well for the Bolts. In the first period, they put 11 shots on goal, which is just as many shots as they put on net in the first two periods of Game One combined. They seemed to be putting decent pressure on the Canadiens, and trying their hardest to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
No one is quite sure what happened during that intermission; however, the Lightning we saw on the ice were not the same Lightning that we had seen in the first period. A series of bad turnovers, slow response time, and blind passes led to the Canadiens taking a 2-0 lead in the second period.
The first of those two goals was made on the Power Play by Habs center David Desharnais off of a tip-in. The assists on the goal were accredited to defenseman P.K. Subban and left wing Max Pacioretty.
The second came around the ten minute mark in the game when Habs right wing Rene Bourque fired off a wrist shot that found its way to the back of the net with the assists from left wing Thomas Vanek and assist number two for Subban.
Whereas the first period was pretty calm in terms of penalties, the second was a whole other story. A series of no calls by the wonderful referees led to quite a few scuffles between these two teams. The biggest of them all went down in the first 3 minutes of the period when Habs left wing Brandon Prust and Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas got into it. Both players were assessed 7 minutes in penalties; Gudas received 2 minutes for Holding and 5 minutes for Fighting, Prust received 2 minutes for Roughing and 5 minutes for Fighting.
Unfortunately, the third period didn’t get much better for the Lightning. They were able to hold off the onslaught of the Canadiens until just around the halfway point in the period. After a cross ice pass from center Valtteri Filppula to right wing Teddy Purcell was intercepted by Habs right wing Brendan Gallagher, he took the puck to the net. The first shot was intercepted by Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, but the second found its way to the back of the net.
Just three minutes later, Bourque would find the back of the net for the second time in the game with the assists from center Lars Eller.
Thankfully, even though the Lightning would not be able to get back on top and get a win in this game, thanks to a goal on the Power Play by Teddy Purcell would prevent the Bolts from being shut out on home ice. The assists on his goal would go to defenseman Victor Hedman and center Valtteri Filppula.
The first two games in this series have just been all around bad for the Lightning. Unfortunately, people have begun to throw blame at the wrong people. The go-to player when it comes to the blame game is almost always the goaltender. Unfortunately, those people would be incorrect. If you watch the game close enough, Lindback made quite a few essential saves in critical situations. Had Lindback not been on his game as much as he was, the score may have been that much worse.
Unfortunately, there were breakdowns at all positions in the first two games. The defense has done a pretty sloppy job of taking it to the other team. There are far too many times where players will just stand there and watch the puck sail right past their face. Those of you who know me well enough know exactly who I am referring to.
Also, on numerous occasions, the Bolts would take the puck to the offensive zone only to make one too many passes, or even worse a series of blind passes that were all too often picked off by the Canadiens.
I am not quite sure what happened to the Lightning team that won their last four of the season, which included not one, but two shutouts; however, I think I speak for the rest of the Bolts Nation when I say that we want that team back when the Bolts take on the Habs at the Bell Center in Montreal.
We all know that the Lightning have all of the tools necessary to get the job done. They have skill, speed, and most of all desire; however, if they want to get back on top of this series, they are going to have to start playing like they want to win, like they did in the last four games of the regular season.
What do you think was the breakdown in the Lightning’s system in the first two games of the post season? What is going to be the key to the Bolts getting back on track in Game 3? Let us know what you think in the comments below.