The Tampa Bay Lightning suffer their first loss of their six-game road trip as they fall 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a crazy couple of days, but when everything was said and done, the Lightning have continued to find ways to win and have successfully kept momentum on their side as the trek through their current six-game road trip.
Tonight, the Lightning faced a whole new challenge. The Lightning made their way into the Bell Centre in Montreal to take on the league-leading Montreal Canadiens. If the Lightning wanted to emerge victoriously in Montreal, they knew they would have to fight hard to keep momentum on their side.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t exactly start out the way Tampa Bay Lightning fans would’ve hoped. The first thing that caused distress for Lightning fans is the simple fact the Lightning didn’t register their first shot on goal under there was just 7:34 left in the period.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Coming up against an offensive team like the Canadiens, and let’s not even mentioned the skill of Carey Price between the pipes, the Lightning would need to be much more offensively aggressive if they wanted to leave the Bell Centre with the two points tonight.
The second, and probably most concerning, thing about the first period surrounds Lightning netminder Ben Bishop. Bishop came out of his crease – way out of his crease – on not one, but two separate occasions in an attempt to play the puck.
Thankfully for Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning, both of those attempts worked to the advantage of the Bolts. In fact, not only did Bishop bowl over Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw in the process, but he was able to clear the puck and almost create a scoring chance for the Lightning.
There were two moments in the first period that were downright scary for Tampa Bay Lightning fans. The first moment came when Nikita Kucherov lost his edge and tumbled to the ice. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, but when you look at the way he crashed into the boards the bigger picture changes some.
The good news is, there was no real damage done and Kucherov was able to get back into the game quickly.
The second moment came in the final minute of the period. Things started to get a little heated between the Lightning and the Canadiens in front of the Lightning net. Suddenly, Ben Bishop is railed in the head by the elbow of Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk.
We’ve watched the footage what seems like a million times, and while there is truth to the matter that Galchenyuk was pushed from behind, it still seems like he leaned into the head shot a little. At the end of the day, there was no call on the play and Bishop emerged mostly unscathed. We guess you’d call that a wash.
These two teams would remain scoreless as the buzzer sounded to end the first period. Unfortunately, as we said before, the Lightning’s offense seemed to forget there was a game tonight. The Canadiens outshot the Bolts 9-4 in the first period.
No matter which way you slice it, four shots on goal per period is not going to win a game. The Tampa Bay Lightning needed to come out of the tunnel with intensity and wrestle control of the game back from the Canadiens. This is the kind of task that is easier said than done, but if anyone can, it’s the Bolts.
Things got a little sketchy when the puck dropped to start the second period. It was quickly noticed that Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who slammed into the boards in the first period, was not on the bench with the team to start the period. Unfortunately, this would not change when the buzzer sounded to end the period.
On the bright side, things did pick up for the Tampa Bay Lightning as the second period progressed. Judging by the amount of shots on goal in the second period, the Lightning were much more offensive.
Much of the period was a spirited back and forth between these two teams. As we have mentioned before, tonight quickly transformed into a battle of the goaltenders. At some point, something had to give. Thankfully, it broke to the advantage of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning were fighting to keep control of the puck in the offensive zone. Back towards the blueline, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman finds himself face-to-face with a beautiful opportunity. Hedman fires the puck towards the net, which just happens to land right on the stick of Lightning forward Alex Killorn.
Alex Killorn skillfully tips the puck past Price and into the back of the net to kick things off for the Lightning and pick up his sixth goal of the season. This is the kind of offense Tampa Bay Lightning fans were looking for in the first 30 minutes of play.
As the period was about to come to an end, the Lightning would find themselves with a wonderful opportunity. Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Holding against Lightning d-man Victor Hedman.
This would mean the Lightning would both finish the second period and begin the third period with the man advantage. We must say, that’s not a bad position to be in coming into the third period of play; especially against a team like the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens would effectively kill off the penalty from the first period, but with just 12 seconds left in the previous penalty, Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov would be whistled for Delay of Game and the Lightning would get another two minutes with the man advantage.
Unfortunately, the tides were about the shift in terms of advantages. Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov would be sent to the sin bin for two minutes for Roughing against Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher seemingly gets away with murder as he avoids a call.
The Nesterov penalty would open the door for Alex Galchenyuk, of all players, to capitalize on the Canadiens’ opportunity and put the puck in the back of the net to tie things up for the Habs. Bishop’s attention was on Alexander Radulov, who seemed like he would be the one to receive the puck, but alas…that honor went to Galchenyuk on the unprotected stick side.
Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get anymore trying for Tampa Bay Lightning fans, well…they did. The Canadiens were able to get possession of the puck in the Lightning’s defensive zone.
Andrew Shaw would start the play off. From there, Shaw would pass the puck to Canadiens defenseman Greg Pateryn at the blueline. Without hesitation, Pateryn would pass the puck to Max Pacioretty who would spin, release the puck, and wrestle the lead away from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts would do everything within their power to try and tie the game up and, at the very least, send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, a win in Montreal was simply not meant to be this day. An empty net goal by Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell would essentially put the final nail in the coffin for the Lightning.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Tampa Bay Lightning would suffer their first loss of the road trip as they fell 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.
One of the biggest problems the Tampa Bay Lightning have had since the start of the season is taking unnecessary penalties. One of the biggest offenders for the Tampa Bay Lightning has been defenseman Nikita Nesterov.
So far this season, Nesterov has a total of four penalties. Two of those have led to opposing team’s goals. While Nikita Nesterov has a lot of good qualities to him, we can’t for the life of us understand why Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper hasn’t swapped Nesterov for Slater Koekkoek for a few games.
We’re not saying Nesterov needs to spend the entire season in Syracuse, but a couple of games with the Crunch could be just what Nesterov needs to get his groove back.
While the Tampa Bay Lightning may have come up empty handed against the Canadiens, this was not the worst game the Lightning could’ve played. They got off to a slow start, but once they took the ice for the second period, the Bolts seemed much more in control and aggressive with the puck.
It’s time for the Tampa Bay Lightning to shake off tonight’s loss. The Lightning continue their six-game road trip as they make their way to the Prudential Center in New Jersey where they will take on the New Jersey Devils.
The Lightning defeated the Devils 2-1 in their first meeting of the season. Hopefully, history will repeat itself and the Lightning can use the Devils as the catalyst to get back on track.
The action is set to kick off on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. from the Prudential Center. The Lightning’s encounter with the Devils will kick off their back-to-back weekend. It will be interesting to see how the Lightning respond after tonight’s loss to the Canadiens.