The Tampa Bay Lightning concluded their five-game homestand last night with an overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. It concluded a solid stretch for Tampa that saw the squad pick up eight points out of a possible ten.
The two points they dropped, however, were both from the bonus point that was up for grabs in overtime. Combined with their overtime loss to Buffalo earlier this season, the Lightning are now 0-3 on the season in the extra period.
As we explored last week, what has to change for Tampa to find success when the game goes to overtime?
Tampa Bay Lightning: Clocking out after the third period
The overtime playoff struggles Tampa has had in its last two runs are a different beast than the struggles the Lightning are having with the 3 v 3 formats this season, so for the purpose of this piece, we are going to focus on what’s gone wrong this season.
In all three losses this season, it has started with the faceoff. Jon Cooper has tried to employ Luke Glendening to win the opening faceoff the last two games after having Anthony Cirelli take the opening faceoff against Buffalo.
And despite the fact that Glendening has a 55% faceoff win rate this season and Cirelli has a 59%, all three faceoffs were lost cleanly.
From there, we have seen the art of patience from teams who have been willing to cycle the puck around, take some outside shots, retrieve the puck, and continue. Combined, Tampa has been outshot 12-0 in the three games.
Because even when Tampa has retrieved the puck, they have wanted to step on the gas right away. It’s hard to argue against the methodology last night as Brayden Point had an attempt to go off the post after Tampa pushed a 2 v 1 attack, but against Toronto, the Lightning pushed, immediately got trapped in the corner and lost the puck.
But even after Tampa’s near miss last night, the faceoff woes continued. Nick Paul lost the ensuing offensive zone draw, then took a penalty on the ensuing zone entry, and that was that.
So, as silly and elementary as it may seem, Tampa’s pathway to success in regular season overtime has to start with faceoffs. Cooper is putting his best faceoff men out there, those guys are just getting beat.
Once they can actually control the puck for more than five seconds, there is reason to believe Tampa’s playmakers will eventually come through.