The Tampa Bay Lightning were behind the eight-ball from the get-go on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay was fortunate to come away with a point after falling in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues on the first of two straight games against the Blues.
Brian Elliot got the start in net; Mathieu Joseph did not play and Steven Stamkos missed this one because he and his family are expecting the birth of their second child. All told, getting a point seems like a positive result every day of the week. However, having a 3-0 lead just over five minutes into the game made the result a bit tougher to swallow.
Let’s break down what happened.
1. Getting Thin up Front
You cannot talk about this game and not come back to the bodies that were not in the Lightning lineup. Tampa Bay was without each of their top three forwards and had a number of young players forced to take on increased rolls, including Gabriel Fortier making his NHL debut. The effects of the absences were felt in all aspects of the game, Between the losses up front and a backup goaltender in net, this was a solid point earned in another difficult building for the Lightning to play in.
2. The Hot? Start
The Lightning had a 3-0 lead just five minutes into the game. St. Louis got off to a slow start and the Lightning were fortunate to take the early lead. Tampa Bay opened the scoring following a series of fortunate bounces leading to Anthony Cirelli’s goal, a powerplay goal by Corey Perry and another lucky bounce after Erik Cernak’s dump in front the red line deflected off the glass support and into the net. Goals two and three made for the fastest two goals in Lightning history but there was obviously still a ton of game left.
3. Losing the Momentum
St. Louis was late to the party. They started out flat in the opening minutes and were victims of a few fortunate bounces for the Lightning. About halfway through the first period, St. Louis began to take over. While they did not score in the first period, the energy they created in the period spilled over into the second period. There was a span in which the Blues held the Lightning without a shot for over 16 minutes between the first and second period. This led to St. Louis taking control and bringing the score to 3-2 after two periods.
4. Lead Slips Again
A troubling trend that has come up in recent weeks has been holding on to leads. After two shutout victories in which the Lightning held the lead, they saw another one slip away Tuesday. Obviously, the 3-0 lead occurred very early in the game and there was a ton of hockey to be played. Still, the Lightning were able to hold onto a one goal lead entering the third period. With all of the chaos regarding the lineup, this one can maybe be thrown out, but the trend of surrendering leads in the third period is still concerning.
5. Another Chance Thursday
The Lightning will have another crack against the Blues on Thursday night at home. Tampa Bay went toe to toe with St. Louis with a number of key pieces missing from the lineup and with their backup netminder in goal. The Lightning have plenty of reasons to feel good about earning the one point and should have every reason to believe they can get two points on Thursday. With Stamkos back in the lineup, this should inject a little more life as Tampa Bay looks to get back in the win column.