The Tampa Bay Lightning drop their second game in a row as a lack of aggression betrays them at the TD Garden against the Boston Bruins.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a tough challenge in front of them tonight. Coming off of a rather disheartening loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, the Lightning kicked off a three-game road trip this afternoon against a team that needs to introduction to Bolts fans, the Boston Bruins.
Of course, the Boston Bruins were dealing with some issues of their own. The Bruins took the ice this afternoon without the assistance of their captain, Zdeno Chara, who is currently out with a Lower-Body Injury. While this may be a good thing for the Bolts, it doesn’t make the Bruins any less of a challenge.
The Lightning and Bruins really came at each other in the first period. Despite some incredible chances created by the Bolts, they simply couldn’t solve the puzzle known as Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Rask is currently fourth in the league in Goals Allowed, third in wins, and second in shutouts.
Tampa Bay Lightning
As we said in our preview of tonight’s action, the Tampa Bay Lightning have no choice but to dig deep and find their inner aggressiveness and consistent play if they want to come out on top against a team like Boston; especially a Boston team looking to get out from under a three-game losing streak.
While neither team would be able to find the back of the net in the first period of play, the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged from the first period of play with a slight advantage. The Lightning would ever-so-slightly outshoot the Bruins 7-6 in the first period.
Aside from the scoresheet, there was one scary moment in the first period of play. The Bruins were rushing into the zone in the hopes of getting one in on Ben Bishop. As usual, Bishop played the puck in front of the net.
Unfortunately, Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles got tripped up on Bishop’s stick and crashed head first into the boards. Towards the end of the second period, the Bruins would announce that Liles had sustained an Upper-Body Injury and would not be returning to this afternoon’s encounter.
Considering the severity of head injuries and what they can mean for a player’s career, we here at Bolts By The Bay sincerely hope the injury to John-Michael Liles is nothing too serious and that he makes a speedy recovery and return to the ice.
The other notable from the first period is the fists of fury unleashed by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov seemed to take exception to being slashed by Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, and it wasn’t long until the gloves were off and the two were exchanging blows.
Surprisingly enough, the two of them would spend an equal amount of time in the sin bin. Both Kucherov and Krug would find themselves with two minutes for Slashing and five minutes for Fighting, creating a long 4-on-4 situation.
As many chances as the Tampa Bay Lightning created for themselves in the first period, they gave away twice that in the second. Unfortunately for the Bolts, their turn for the worse started at just 2:24 in the second period.
It would be former Lightning forward Dominic Moore who would get things started for the Bruins, sinking one past Bishop early in the second with the assists by defenseman Colin Miller and forward Ryan Spooner.
Unfortunately, this was merely the beginning of the end for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just past the halfway point in the second period when Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Tripping Bruins defenseman Torey Krug.
This would open the door for David Backes to capitalize on the man advantage and extend the Bruins’ lead over the Lightning to two goals. You could almost feel the wind blow right out of the sails of the Tampa Bay Lightning. As you can imagine, Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was more the frustrated by this point.
The Boston Bruins weren’t done putting the pressure on the Bolts in the second period just yet. Less than three minutes before the end of the period, the Bruins would strike once again. This time, it would be at the hands of Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes, who picked up his first goal of the season to extend the Bruins’ lead to three.
So far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have posted some pretty amazing third period rallies. Unfortunately, today was not one of those games. Just before the halfway point in the third period, David Pastrnak would pick up his 13th goal of the season to give the Bruins a 4-0 lead over the Bolts.
Those Lightning fans who were watching this afternoon’s game on Fox Sports Sun were treated to a little comedy from the announcers; more specifically, Brian Engblom.
It is a well-known hockey superstition you never utter words like shutout and hat trick during an ongoing game. Well…that doesn’t exactly apply when it’s your opponent working on the shutout. After repeating the word numerous times, the hockey gods finally decided to smile on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would finally get one past Tuukka Rask and ruin the shutout for the Bruins netminder. While the Lightning would not complete one of the amazing aforementioned rallies in the third, putting a stop to the shutout is a small victory.
There were a few things wrong with tonight’s performance. While the Lightning were able to register 31 shots on goal through three periods of play, they seemed to lack the aggressiveness we have seen for a good part of the season. When you’re coming up against a goaltender like Rask, you simply can’t rest on your heels.
Much like the unfortunate game on Friday night against the Blue Jackets, the defense also experienced a number of miscues. It is quite clear the absence of Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman is being felt on the Lightning blueline. Thankfully, it is being said Stralman will be able to return during the current road trip.
The simple fact of the matter is if the Lightning wants to dig themselves out of the hole they currently find themselves in, they are going to have to set the pace early, play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey, and continue to play the in-your-face style of play we have become accustomed to seeing this season.
Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning head to the Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second time in four days. While the win/loss record may show differently, the Lightning have what it takes to come up on top against the Blue Jackets. They’ll just have to dig real deep to find it within themselves.