The Tampa Bay Lightning stumbled in their penultimate regular season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After multiple games of showcasing their prolific high-scoring offense, the Bolts could only muster one goal before netting another in garbage time. The final score would end up being 2-5 Columbus.
Let’s look at the implications of this loss.
1. Brian Elliott Unable to Bail Out Poor Defensive Play
Brian Elliott started what should be his final game of the season. While four of the goals scored by the Blue Jackets will count against him, tonight was a case of the team in front of the goaltender not performing. Even with 3 more power play opportunities than Columbus, and extra man time with their net empty, the Bolts were only able to record a Corsi For% of 38.96% while also giving up multiple high-danger rush chances.
2. Early Goal Overturned
Scoring the first goal of any game can go a long way in controlling the pace of the game thereafter. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, their initial first goal of the game by Pat Maroon was overturned by a goaltender interference call on Corey Perry, who was laying in the crease. Tough luck, but not an excuse for being outworked by a non-playoff team with one game left in the regular season.
3. Steven Stamkos Falls Short of Matching Gretzky
Stamkos’ streak of scoring 3 or more points in games will end one shy of joining Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Jari Kurri as the only players with a streak of 6 games. Stamkos did come close in the end though as he assisted on both of the Lightning’s goals.
With one game remaining this season, Stamkos will still have the opportunity to reach 40 goals in a season for the 6th time in his career. Currently sitting at 39, he’ll only need to find the back of the net once against the Islanders.
4. Rematch Was a Good Playoff Warm-up
Losing to the Blue Jackets in a lopsided game is not a good look, but this game should serve as preparation for what the team is about to face in the playoffs. After shutting down Columbus 4-1 on Tuesday night, the two teams immediately rematched. One team made adjustments and came out committed to outworking their opponent and the other didn’t. With a potential 7-game series on the horizon, the team will hopefully have remembered the importance of not letting their guard down after winning one game.
5. Lightning First Round Opponent TBD Friday Night
The Lightning were unable to lock-in an opening round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. A win would have guaranteed it, but the Boston Bruins winning and moving to within 1 point of the Bolts, with 1 game each remaining, has 3rd in the Atlantic and the WC1 spot up for grabs.
Should the Lightning and Bruins end the season tied in points, it will be the Bruins moving on to face the Leaves with Tampa taking the WC1 spot to face the Carolina Hurricanes since Boston holds the tiebreaker (regulation wins).
The Lightning will close out their regular season slate Friday night on the road against the New York Islanders at 7:30PM ET.