What was once a five-game point streak for the Tampa Bay Lightning has turned into two consecutive regulation losses against playoff teams. The Lightning’s come from behind effort fell short Wednesday night in Washington, as they were defeated 4-3 at the hands of the Capitals.
John Carlson recorded four points for Washington while Tampa Bay played nearly the entire game from behind. The Lightning trailed by two goals on three different occasions, including after two periods for the second straight game.
Let’s break down where we’re at.
1. Defensive Breakdowns
The collective team defense has been reeling in the last few games for the Lightning. Between missed coverages and odd-man rushes, they have been getting stretched out and leaving Andrei Vasilevskiy out to dry. It must be noted that Ryan McDonagh being out of the lineup has much to do with the recent struggles. Once he is back, you can expect a steadier defense.
2. Penalties Hurt
The Lightning surrendered five powerplay chances to the Capitals, and they made them pay twice. Powerplay goals for Washington increased their lead to two on both occasions. The man advantage put Washington up 2-0 in the first and up 4-2 in the second period, making the mountain too steep for Tampa Bay to climb.
3. Vasilevskiy’s Struggles
The last two games cannot be pinned down to the goaltender alone, but it is no secret that Andrei Vasilevskiy’s game has been off. He has allowed 10 goals in the last two games combined and has had a save percentage below .860 in both. With the grueling last two playoff runs and another long regular-season, fatigue may be a factor. We may end up seeing Brian Elliott more often than we have this season, to try and keep Vasilevskiy as sharp as possible heading into playoffs.
4. Rally Comes up Short
After being unsuccessful on their first two powerplay opportunities of the game, the Lightning finally showed signs of life after being able to score on the man advantage late in the third. Ross Colton’s one timer cut the deficit in half as the Lighting were given a chance in the closing minutes. They had a strong surge following the Colton goal but were unable to push across the tying goal.
5. Something to Build on
Like I just mentioned, the Lightning had a strong end to the game. They played their best hockey of the game in the final five minutes of the game while trying to come from behind. Though they came up short, those final five minutes can give the Lightning some confidence going into Friday’s meeting with the Boston Bruins as they try to dig out of the hole they have been in.