The Tampa Bay Lightning began their second road trip of the season with a 4-2 loss in Columbus against the Blue Jackets as their struggles on the road continued Thursday night. Tampa Bay is now 0-3-1 on the road to start the season after being a below .500 team away from home last season.
Thursday night’s game marked the second time this season that the Lightning have lost the lead after coming into the third period ahead. Columbus took it to the Lightning in the third period on the way to scoring three unanswered goals.
Slipping Away in the Third
Tampa Bay really let a win slip away Thursday. Up by a goal in the third against one of the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference, this was a game the Lightning should have put away. Once the Lightning surrendered the lead in the third, they were still uninspiring and did not generate any offense. Tampa Bay managed just six shots on goal on the third, two times fewer than Columbus had.
The loss cannot even be put on Matt Tomkins who was making his second career start in the NHL. You can maybe say there was one shot he should have stopped that got by him but he played well enough to win. He stopped 24 of 27 shots against and was fine.
Road Struggles Continue
Tampa Bay’s struggles away from home are well known at this point. Columbus was supposed to be the easiest stop on this road trip and the Lightning failed to come away with any points. The first road trip of season included Tampa Bay going winless against three Atlantic Division opponents. Guess what lays ahead on the road? Three Atlantic Division opponents.
Tampa Bay went 18-22-1 on the road a year ago and obviously still managed to make the playoffs. The road struggles from a year ago seem to have just rolled over to this year. It is difficult to pin down why they have struggled on the road but through their four games away from home this season they have not been able to play close to 60 minutes. Too many long stretches of inconsistent play have led to them finding ways to lose.
Sheary Gets on the Board
A bright spot for the Lightning Thursday night was the way they played in the second period. Tampa Bay netted a pair of goals in the second including Conor Sheary getting his first goal of the season off a great pass from Steven Stamkos.
Sheary’s goal was a big one for him as the pressure was somewhat starting to mount after not recording a goal through the first nine games of the season. It is still early in the season and guys are still settling into new roles but it has to be a relief for Sheary to finally be on the board and this may open the floodgates for him a bit.