The Tampa Bay Lightning had to bounce back after a disappointing loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Lightning did not have any time to sit around and think about the end of their nine-game point streak coming to an end as it was back to work for another early start time on Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota currently sits atop the Central Division and were also coming into Sunday following a loss on Saturday. With Brayden Point out of the lineup, the challenge became even greater. The shootout victory ended up being a positive result out of another game in which the Lightning lost a late lead. It’s tough to see wins slip away in regulation, but the two points count just the same.
Let’s get into the takeaways from this one.
1. Bad News Prior to Puck drop.
Following the loss to New Jersey on Saturday, there was not any update on the status of Brayden Point after crashing into the end boards in the third period. Point finished the game, but we learned that Point would be out for an extended period after not being on the ice for warmups. During the warmups, the club announced that Point would be out indefinitely with an upper body injury. Without Kucherov and Point, the Lightning are now without 2/3 of their top line.
2. Another Two Goal Lead Slips Away
For the second straight game, a two-goal lead in the third period fell by the wayside. Minnesota scored twice with the net empty to eventually tie the game with less than a minute to go. Ondrej Palat had a chance to seal the deal with an empty netter but hit the post. Minnesota would jam home a loose puck to force overtime and earn themselves a point.
3. Cirelli’s Big Night
With Point out, Anthony Cirelli slid back out into his traditional number two center roll. Cirelli also took Point’s spot on the top powerplay unit. Cirelli got the Lightning on the board just over a minute into the game on the powerplay on a tip in front of the Minnesota net. Cirelli would add another goal in the second period to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead. Full face shield and all, Cirelli went to the dirty area at the front of the net to convert on a second effort play.
4. Elliot Holds On
Despite giving up two goals late in the third period, Elliot responded with some solid saves in overtime. Minnesota recorded six shots on net in the extra frame and Elliot had the answer to all of them including all three Wild shots in an eventual shootout. The win would go down as Elliot’s first on home ice with Tampa Bay and his second win in three starts on the year.
5. Stepping Up Without Point
When you lose your top center, everyone must step up their game. Between Cirelli’s big night on the scoresheet and Stamkos’ shootout winner, these are the contributors we would expect to pinch in. What they will need going forward without Point will be even more from lower down the lineup. Alex Barre-Boulet was one to step up in this one. The same day he was recalled from Syracuse, ABB traveled to Tampa from Syracuse at 6:00AM and even found the back of the net. With another absence in the lineup, Barre-Boulet will have another shot to make an impact in the Lightning lineup.