The Tampa Bay Lightning suffer their third-straight loss as they are toppled 5-1 by the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena in their second meeting of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have found themselves in a rather dark and depressing situation over the course of the last few games. Unfortunately, tonight’s contest at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus is no exception to the recent situation here in the Bolts Nation.
The Lightning got off to what one could politely refer to as a slow start. In fact, it took the Lightning until 10:16 in the first period before the Bolts would even register their first shot on goal. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better from that point.
Taking a slight step backwards, the Columbus Blue Jackets started their assault of the Lightning at 5:30 in the first period. Blue Jackets forward William Karlsson would take advantage of a three-on-one situation to open up the scoring.
Tampa Bay Lightning
That’s right…Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was hung out to dry by his defense, who allowed him to get barraged in a three-on-one situation. Those Lightning fans who have been mercilessly attacking Ben Bishop for his performance over the last few games now know what it’s like for their goaltender to be hung out to dry, but we’ll come back to this one later.
When the buzzer sounded to end the first 20 minutes of play, the Columbus Blue Jackets would outshoot the Tampa Bay Lightning 16-6. While we have always been a proponent of quality over quantity, there comes a time when you simply have to take the shot, come what may.
Much like the Lightning’s encounter with the Boston Bruins on Sunday night, the second period was all about the Columbus Blue Jackets. Well…that and an incredibly incompetent referee, but we’ll get back to that one in a minute as well.
Just like the first period of play, things got off to a quick start for the Blue Jackets in the second period. The Lightning attempted to dump the puck into the offensive zone. Unfortunately for the Lightning, Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones was able to keep the puck in the zone and pass it off to forward Alexander Wennberg.
Wennberg wasted no time in pulling back his stick and firing off the shot. The puck sailed right through Andrei Vasilevskiy’s legs and into the back of the net to extend the Blue Jackets’ lead over the Bolts to two.
After a painful 25 minutes of hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally started to get things on the right track. Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison would put the puck in the back of the net, finally beating Sergei Bobrovsky, but before the team could even begin to celebrate, referee Tim Peel threw his hand in the air.
Peel asserted that Lightning forward Ondrej Palat, who hadn’t even come into contact with Bobrovsky, had interfered with him and therefore, the goal was deemed invalid. As you can imagine, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper elected to challenge the call on the ice.
Peel made his way to the boards, put on his headphones, and conferred with the “hockey gods” in Toronto about the situation. Ultimately, it was deemed by the powers that be that it was Palat’s contact with Jack Johnson that caused Johnson to make contact with Bobrovsky, causing him to make his Crosby-esque dive.
This way, by far, one of the worst calls we’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something.) Unfortunately, the National Hockey League sees nothing wrong with the way their officials have been performing and there seems to be no end in sight to the issues that plague the entire league.
However, this would prove to play a rather minor role in the overall scope of things tonight between the Lightning and the Blue Jackets. While the bad call certainly took the wind out of the Lightning’s sails, the referees cannot be blamed for the team’s lack of offensive effort and defensive control on the ice.
Unfortunately, even the best goaltenders in the league let in a soft goal now and again. Vasilevskiy’s would come at the 16:00 mark in the second period. Vasy comes up with the save on the first shot, but after the Blue Jackets regrouped in front of the net, the second would sail right past him and into the back of the net.
When the buzzer would sound to end the second period of play, the Columbus Blue Jackets would lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0. If there is anything we know for sure, it’s that we would not want to be in that locker room when the Bolts made their way there for the second intermission.
The Lightning were once again outshot by the Blue Jackets in the second period. The Lightning were outshot 11-7 by the Blue Jackets for a two-period total of 27-13. Once again, we always prefer quality over quantity, but when that fails to get the job done, you simply have to take the shots as they come and see what sticks.
The bad news for the Bolts was, the Blue Jackets had no intention of backing down in the third period. In fact, it was a mere 1:57 seconds into the third period when Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell would complete a tic-tac-goal and send the puck flying past Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net.
Things would only continue to go downhill for the Lightning when Blue Jackets forward Sam Gagner would turn a quick wrap around into a soft goal that extended the Blue Jackets’ lead over the Lightning to a whopping 5-0.
Once a team finds themselves in this deep of a whole, it becomes near impossible for them to dig themselves out. While the Lightning may not have been able to pull out the win in Columbus, there is one thing they could accomplish. They could ultimately ruin the shootout for Sergei Bobrovsky.
With just 2:50 remaining in the third period, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula would score his 150th NHL goal to finally get the Bolts on the board. Filppula would fake the first shot, but the second would go sailing past Bobrovsky and into the back of the net. Bobrovsky was visibly frustrated after the goal.
So…let’s get back to a topic we mentioned a little earlier. Over the last couple of games, there have been some Lightning fans who have been absolutely merciless to Lightning netminder Ben Bishop. Some fans have even been calling for Bishop to be traded before the NHL Trade Deadline.
What was their main reasoning for these comments, you may ask? Well, many of them have sighted his performance over the last couple of games for their opinions. No matter how many ways you try to explain it, they simply didn’t want to hear anything differing from their opinion.
Unfortunately, the same reasoning fans like us have been giving for Ben Bishop’s performance over the last few games is exactly what happened to Vasilevskiy tonight. The remainder of the team left him out to dry; especially when Vasy was faced with a three-on-one situation in the first period.
At the same time, if the Lightning want to end the skid they find themselves on right now, a lot of things are going to have to change. The Bolts need to be much more aggressive on the forecheck, improve their puck handling, stop overpassing the puck, and for the love of the hockey gods…take the shot.
There have been discussions about Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman making his return to the ice at some point over the course of the current three-game road trip. If these discussions are in fact true, the Swedish defenseman will have to make his return on Thursday night in St. Louis.
It would also be incredibly beneficial to the Lightning if they are able to get back alternate captain Ryan Callahan in time for the Lightning’s battle against the St. Louis Blues. The overall picture will more than likely come into view when the Lightning take the ice on Thursday morning for practice.
While it may have taken extra frames, the Blues have won their last two games in a row. They aren’t going to be an easy team to beat, but if the Lightning can start to play together as a cohesive unit once again, they can certainly get back on the right track expediently.