Tampa Bay Lightning Lose Uphill Battle Against St. Louis Blues

Feb 14, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson (6) defends Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson (6) defends Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a desperate push in the third period, the Tampa Bay Lightning came up empty in a 2-1 loss to captain David Backes and the St. Louis Blues.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had an opportunity to accomplish something great tonight. A simple win over the St. Louis Blues would not only have allowed the Lightning to make up a little of the distance between them and teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins, but it would have extended the Tampa Bay Lightning’s win streak at home to 10 games. Unfortunately, this was simply not meant to be.

When the final buzzer would sound to end the game, the Tampa Bay Lightning would fall 2-1 to the St. Louis Blues. This is the second time this season the Blues have walked away with a victory over the Lightning. The first encounter this season was back on October 27th when the Blues defeated the Lightning 2-0 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Before we get entirely too deep into the discussion about tonight’s encounter. There is a very good chance you are going to hear about the downright disgusting officiating of tonight’s game more than once throughout the next couple of paragraphs. While we may, in fact, be looking at a totally different game if the officiating had been more across the board, this is not the reason the Tampa Bay Lightning lost tonight’s encounter.

The Tampa Bay Lightning was very much in control in the first period of play. They seemed to be playing aggressive with the puck and taking every opportunity possible to get the puck into the back of the net. In fact, it wasn’t until there was 11:07 left in the period before the St. Louis Blues would register their very first shot on goal. Despite outshooting the Blues 12-4 in the first period, the Tampa Bay Lightning simply couldn’t find the back of the net.

One thing that definitely stood out in tonight’s encounter was the spark in which the game started with. In addition to their offensive prowess, there was the small matter of the incredible fight between Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov and Blues center Robby Fabbri. It is pretty safe to say our young, Russian sniper was the victor in this battle.

Unfortunately, when these two teams hit the ice for the second period, it was almost as if we were looking at an entirely new St. Louis Blues roster. They were doing much better in breaking up plays, taking the puck to the back of the net, and ultimately keeping it out of the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just 36 seconds into the second period of play, the St. Louis Blues would strike first blood. Needless to say, all of the momentum the Lightning created in the first period of play seemed to slowly fizzle away into a pool of water in the middle of the ice. It was a horrible turnover in the neutral zone from Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr that opened the door to a breakaway from Robby Fabbri. Before anyone knew what happened, the puck was sailing past Lightning netminder Ben Bishop and into the back of the net.

When the buzzer sounded to end the second period of play, the Lightning would trail the Blues 1-0. The Blues made up a lot of ground in the shots on goal department. The Lightning barely outshot the Blues 11-10 in the second period for a two-period total of 22-14 Lightning.

The Tampa Bay Lightning would do everything within their power to try to right the ship in the third period, but one small mistake may have been the final nail in the coffin of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s trying encounter. The Blues would attempt to clear the zone with a high shot. Lightning defenseman Matt Carle plucked the puck out of the air and attempted to play the puck back into the offensive zone, but one little miscue led to a horrific turnover that opened the door for what happened next.

The turnover from Matt Carle led to a breakaway for St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund. Ben Bishop was able to deflect the first shot on goal from Berglund; however, the six-foot-seven-inch tall netminder wasn’t quite so lucky when it came time for the rebound. The second Blues goal turned out to be one of the biggest points of controversy in the entire game.

Initially, the goal was ruled as a no-goal by the referees as the puck has been kicked into the back of the net by Berglund. Unfortunately, this led to a review of the goal. We are not quite sure what the people in Toronto may have seen from the tape, or how many drinks were involved in their decision, but the call on the ice was overturned and the St. Louis Blues would increase their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning to two.

It has been quite some time since we have heard the Amalie Arena burst into a chant of “Ref You Suck!” as loud as the Bolts Nation did tonight. Anyone who saw tonight’s game first person can attest that tonight’s encounter was one of the worst officiated games (on both sides of the ice) we have seen in quite some time.

Despite the fact the odds seemed stacked in the favor of the St. Louis Blues, the Tampa Bay Lightning had not yet given up hope of a comeback. With just 52 seconds left on the clock in the third period, Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov would score his 23rd goal of the season to reduce the Blues’ lead to one.

Unfortunately, this would be a classic case of too little, too late for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning would have their 9-game home winning streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. After three periods of play, the Lightning would ultimately outshoot the Blues 38-21. Needless to say, Blues netminder Brian Elliott had to work incredibly hard for his win tonight over the Bolts. It came as no surprise that Elliott was awarded the first star of the game.

There were flashes of the Tampa Bay Lightning fans were hoping to see tonight, but it seems as if the moments were few and far between as multiple miscues led to their ultimate demise. If the Tampa Bay Lightning want to come up successful on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks, there is a lot of work that will need to be done; especially when it comes to positioning and putting the puck on the net.

As we have mentioned plenty of times throughout the season, consistency and offensive aggression are two of the biggest keys to bringing home a victory.  Hopefully, after the team has the opportunity to review the tapes from tonight’s game they will be able to use tonight’s loss as a learning experience and build a new foundation heading into the final 27 games of the season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have tomorrow night off before they open the doors to the Amalie Arena once again. The Bolts will play host to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.

Next: Lightning Hopes To Extend Win Streak Against Blues

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