Tampa Bay Lightning Fall Short In Intense Shootout Against Boston Bruins

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

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The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off their six-game road trip with a reinvigorating 6-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Tonight, the Lightning returned home to the Amalie Arena for the first time since October 20th to take on the Boston Bruins.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, they would have to take on the big, bad Bruins tonight without the assistance of Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. After taking a nasty elbow to the head at the hands (or elbow, as it were) of Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan, Drouin would be forced to leave the game.

Before the start of tonight’s encounter, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper ruled out Jonathan Drouin against the Bruins. The one thing he did not offer up was the nature and/or extent of Drouin’s injury. Right now, he’s listed as Day-to-Day. Of course, we’ll keep you abreast of any new developments here.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

In any case, the Lightning’s night didn’t exactly start off the way they would have hoped. Just four minutes into the first period of play, Bruins rookie Brandon Carlo was able to find a way to beat Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy and send the puck into the net to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead over the Bolts.

At this point, most Tampa Bay Lightning fans were saying to themselves “It’s just one goal,” and “There’s still plenty of hockey left to play.” While this is true, no fan wants to see the team do what they did next.

Around 7:17 in the period, Lightning forward J.T. Brown would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for high sticking Bruins forward David Pastrnak. While Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron seemingly got away with murder for being the one to lift Brown’s stick into this teammate’s face, it was Brown who headed to the box.

Apparently, Brown’s stick drew blood from Pastrnak, so in return, the Lightning would be faced with a four-minute penalty kill. The Lightning would kill the first half of the penalty, but they weren’t so lucky with the second half. Bruins forward Ryan Spooner would beat Vasilevskiy to extend the Bruins’ lead to two.

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper would challenge the Spooner goal on the premise of the play being offside. Unfortunately, the referee deemed the video replay to be “inconclusive” and the call on the ice would stand. As a result, the Lightning would lose their timeout and any further challenge opportunity.

Obviously, while not being the way the Lightning wanted this game to start, it’s not the worst situation they could be in halfway through the first period. The Lightning have found plenty of success this season after being down two goals in the first period.

On the bright side, the Lightning wouldn’t have to worry about heading into the first intermission with a goose egg on the scoreboard. At 14:07, the Lightning would get their first crack at the man advantage as Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid would make his way to the penalty box for high sticking Brayden Point.

Just over one minute into the penalty, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would pick up his second goal of the season to bring this back to a one-goal game.

The picture would look the same when the buzzer sounded to end the first period of play. After drastically trailing the Bruins in shots on goal in the early part of the period, the Bolts were able to bring themselves within reach of the Bruins, being outshot 13-11 by the Bruins.

If there is any observation we can make about the first period, it’s that penalties are starting to become the bane of the Lightning’s existence. While the Lightning’s penalty kill has been fairly successful this season, taking a penalty at an inopportune time can make all the difference in a game.

The Lightning needs to take a step back and have a discussion about situational awareness. While not every penalty taken is intentional, sometimes you have to be aware of what is going on around you before circumstances around you make you do something you’ll regret.

The Lightning started off the second period with intensity; however, the Bruins would quickly find a way to kill the Lightning’s momentum. Just 4:38 into the second period (we seem to see a pattern forming here), Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron would take a shot at the net. The puck deflects off of David Pastrnak and slips past Vasilevskiy on the stick side.

More times than not, we have been very happy with the play of Andrei Vasilevskiy, but this was one of those goals he really should’ve had. He clearly got beat on the play and once he realized where the puck actually was, he scrambled to get back but it was too little, too late.

The good news is, the Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. Around 6:32 in the second, former Lightning forward Dominic Moore was sent off for two minutes for holding Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. This would open the door for the Lightning’s Power Play unit to hit the ice once again.

With just two seconds left in the man advantage, Lightning forward Tyler Johnson would pick up his third goal of the season to bring the Lightning back within one once again. Johnson has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, having already scored three goals and two assists through 11 games this season.

On the bright side, things seem to be breaking his way as of late. Johnson is one of those players that once he finds his groove, he can quickly become one of the most dangerous goal-scorers on the team, and sometimes the league. Once this happens for Johnson, the NHL had better watch out.

Once again, the Lightning would trail the Bruins by one when the buzzer sounded to end the period. The Lightning did a much better job of keeping pace with the Bruins in the second period. The two teams were tied at nine shots on goal apiece heading into the intermission.

The third period of play got off to a rather slow start, but it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning who would get things going. Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn would take a shot at the net that would go rather high. Tyler Johnson would raise his stick in the air and get the shaft of his stick on the puck.

This would send the puck down and right past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask and tie things up for the Tampa Bay Lightning at the halfway point in the period. As you can imagine, the refs would take a second look at the goal to ensure Johnson’s stick didn’t pass the crossbar. In the end, the call on the ice would stand…good goal.

Assists on the Johnson goal would be accredited to Lightning defensemen Braydon Coburn and Slater Koekkoek. We must say, ever since their devastating 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers, the Lightning defense has been an integral part of the team’s success.

One of the standouts of the Lightning’s defensive unit in the past couple of games has been Slater Koekkoek. Tonight’s encounter with the Bruins was Koekkoek’s second game of the season and he’s already registered three assists. An offensively-minded defenseman is something every team hopes to have.

We’ve been saying he’d make a valuable asset to the team if he was actually given a chance. Now that he’s finally been given the opportunity, we’re glad to see our faith in him was not ill placed.

Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Tuukka Rask were able to keep players out of the back of their respective nets for the remainder of the third period. This meant the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins were headed to overtime. As you can imagine, Lightning fans everywhere were on the edge of their seats.

Curiously enough, this was no typical overtime period for either team. Just 28 seconds into the overtime period, Bruins forward David Krejci would find himself headed to the penalty box for hooking Steven Stamkos. The Lightning would put forth a decent effort on the Power Play, but couldn’t seem to convert.

With just 39 seconds left in the overtime period, the Bruins would get an opportunity with the man advantage as Ondrej Palat would head to the sin bin for holding Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. Thankfully, the Lightning were able to hold strong and finish out the period unscathed.

Related Story: Jonathan Drouin Ruled Out Against Bruins

The bad news here is these two teams were now headed to a shootout. Much like the overtime period, this was not your average shootout. In fact, it would take a full 10 rounds before a winner could be determined.

It wasn’t until the fourth round in the shootout before someone could break the ice. The first player to do this was Lightning forward Brayden Point. This is the second time Point has been able to capitalize in this situation. If he can find a way to get things started in regulation, he’d turn into a powerful forward.

Unfortunately, when the Bruins stepped up to the puck, they would be determined to stay in this game. Andrei Vasilevskiy found himself unable to put a stop to Bruins forward Riley Nash. Therefore, the shootout would plug on.

It wasn’t until Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes would find a way to beat Vasilevskiy that this game would come to an end. The Boston Bruins would pick up the two points and the Tampa Bay Lightning would head back to the locker room with a hard-fought single point.

Despite coming up with the short end of the stick when the final buzzer sounded, this was not exactly what one would call a “bad” game. The Lightning got off on the wrong skate, allowing the Bruins to score first and dictate a good portion of the first period. This caused the Lightning to play catch up for much of the game.

The Lightning have experienced a good amount of success in situations like this so far this season; however, this is not something you can turn into a long term strategy. The Lightning needs to find some sort of consistency and keep things on an even keel for 60 minutes of hockey.

As we mentioned previously, the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to pay closer attention to what is going on around them and increase their situational awareness. Unnecessary penalties have caused the penalty kill to work overtime so far this season, and as good as they are, they can’t bail the team out all the time.

Next: Kucherov’ Slow Start Coming To An End

The Tampa Bay Lightning have the day off tomorrow before they welcome the New Jersey Devils back to the Amalie Arena on Saturday night for their third meeting this season. The Bolts and the Devils have split the series so far this season, so you can bet both teams will be looking for a win on Saturday at Amalie.