The Tampa Bay Lightning were shutout on home ice Saturday night in a snooze fest of a game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina held Tampa Bay to just 22 shots on goal as the Lightning were able to generate little to nothing offensively.
After not losing in regulation in their first six home games of the season, the Lightning have now lost in regulation in consecutive home games.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Nothing Going Offensively
The Lightning offensive attack was uninspiring Saturday night. Nikita Kucherov being out of the lineup certainly had a lot to do with it. The Lightning announced prior to Saturday’s game that Kucherov would not play with an illness.
Kucherov’s absence was very obvious as the Lightning offense struggled to create anything. His absence was most noted on the Lightning power play. The Lightning had a couple of chances to get back in this game on the power play but they went empty on their three chances. Alex Barre-Boulet began in Kucherov’s spot on the power play and Brandon Hagel got a look as well. Neither combination was able to get anything going.
That is Carolina’s Game
Saturday was an exhibition of the Carolina Hurricanes game: get a lead, limit chances and play a low-event game. Carolina went ahead with a power play goal in the first period and a goal on a delayed penalty in the second. They are a team that thrives on having a lead and trying to keep the game under control. The Lightning managed just three shots on goal in the second period as the Hurricanes clogged up the neutral zone.
Pyotr Kochetkov stopped all 22 shots on net but never had to make any really difficult saves. Tampa Bay only managed six high danger chances for in the game and Kochetkov was rarely actually called upon. The shutout is interesting after Kochetkov began this season with the Syracuse Crunch as Carolina does not have an AHL affiliate this year. He allowed just five goals and won all three of his starts with the Crunch this season.
Bunting Finally Accepts
The only redeeming thing from this game for the Lightning is that they finally got Carolina’s Michael Bunting to accept a fight. Bunting knocked Erik Cernak out of last year’s first round playoff series against Toronto. After running from the fight in their first meeting in October, Bunting finally answered to the code Saturday night as Tanner Jeannot challenged him in the opening two minutes.
In a strange twist of fate, Erik Cernak was also injured in this game. He left the game midway through the third period. After the game, head coach Jon Cooper did not have much of an update on his status saying “he’s got to be evaluated. It’s tough of late here to be losing these guys.”