There are no moral victories at the NHL level. But the Lightning can take a lot of positives away from the way they played Friday night against the Boston Bruins, despite falling 2-1 in Overtime.
While the Lightning were able to gain a point, they surrendered what was a tie for third place in the Atlantic division. Tampa Bay currently sits in the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but they may not really care so much about where they finish- it is all about just getting to the playoffs.
Let’s break down what went down.
1. Strong Defensive Performance
This was the first time the Lightning surrendered one or fewer goals in regulation since March 4th against Detroit. They held Boston to mostly one and done chances throughout the game did not allow hardly any odd-man rushes, which had been a significant issue in the past few games.
2. Bounces Not Going their Way
The Lightning probably deserve a better fate in this game. It had a playoff like feel and a couple of bounces can easily push one team ahead. Both Bruin goals came out of plays following a fortunate puck bounce into a dangerous area of the ice. The bounces could have just as easily gone the Lightning’s way, but that’s hockey baby.
3. Powerplay Not Coming Through
In these close, playoff type games, your powerplay can be a difference maker. The powerplay went scoreless in five attempts and had more of their share of chances to convert. This powerplay can be hot and cold but they will need a little bit more from them in these playoff type games. Just converting once could have made a huge difference in this game.
4. Getting Better Goaltending
The Lightning have not gotten the best out of Andrei Vasilevskiy in his last few starts. He had a good night in this one, allowing just two goals on 47 shots and had over a .940 save percentage for the first time in six starts. Even while playing a solid game, it was not enough to out-duel Boston’s Linus Ullmark who was exceptional as well.
5. The School Bus Line is Heard From
It had been a long time since we had seen the line of Pat Maroon, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Corey Perry on the scoresheet. Bellemare’s goal in the second period was the first from the trio since March 6th in Chicago. These guys are now more like a true “fourth” line and they will need to pitch in offensively here and there. If they can get something going, the Lightning can feel a lot better about their offensive depth heading into playoffs.