Shorthanded Lightning Get Pounded by Panthers

Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

This was one to flush to say the least. The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped the first game of the back-to-back on Thursday night 9-3 to the Florida Panthers. The defeat snapped the Lightning’s four game win streak and marked one of the ugliest defeats in recent memory.

Tampa Bay was once again without a number of key pieces, especially in net. It has to be mentioned. However, that does not exactly validate such a lopsided score. The team did not have a great effort overall, but this was a complete one-off.

Let’s discuss what we got from this one!

1. Tough First Period in their Own End

The battle was just about lost in the first period. Even with Maxime Lagace in net, the Lightning did not play very sharply in front of him in the opening period. There were multiple breakdowns by the defense leading to scoring chances and time and space for the Panthers. Florida made them pay and went into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead.

2. Getting the Bounces

Right after making it 3-1 to end of the first, the Panthers fortune continued to push the lead to three again. Three of the first four Panthers goals came on rebounds after shots hit the post. Florida was able to generate plenty of dangerous opportunities and made the most of the fortunate bounces that landed right on the tape of the Panthers.

3. Tough Night for Lagace

Sure, the Lightning were shorthanded, and he was on the wrong end of some tough bounces, but Maxime Lagace had a very difficult night in net. He was pulled after two periods and allowed six goals on 27 shots. Hugo Alnefelt came on to replace Lagace to start the final period. Alnefelt did not fare much better as he allowed three goals on 10 shots. If this game didn’t serve as a reminder that Andrei Vasilevskiy is the best goaltender on the planet, then nothing will.

4. They’ll Still Remember this One

Let’s look at some positives. It may have been one the Lightning want to forget, but Darren Raddysh and Hugo Alnefelt will never forget making their NHL debuts in this one. Because of all the bodies coming in and out of the lineup, Raddysh and Alnefelt were next men up to fill in the holes with so many players in COVID protocol. They won’t care how it happened as appearing in just one NHL game, no matter how it comes, makes for an incredible accomplishment. Remi Elie also appeared in his first game with the Lightning. Elie had appeared in 106 career NHL games and had not played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season with the Buffalo Sabres.

5. Right Back at it

After winning both games without Jon Cooper despite not having their best overall efforts, the Lightning did not get away with it tonight. They won’t have any time to sit around and think about it as it is back to work Friday night back on home ice against the New York Rangers. The Rangers will come in sitting in third in the Metropolitan division and will also be coming in following a loss to the Panthers after falling 4-3 to the Cats on Tuesday. Tampa Bay will look to bring a better effort to conclude the year regardless of who ends up being in or out of the lineup.