Last night was always going to be a difficult one for the Tampa Bay Lightning to pull out against the Winnipeg Jets. Ignoring Tampa's overall road struggles during the 2023-24 campaign, Tampa could only dress five defencemen for the game.
So while the Bolts put forth a reasonable effort and given the nature of hockey could have won with a couple bounces going differently, don't be fooled into thinking that Tampa was the better team on the ice in Winnipeg.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Shots from downtown
It would be easy to look at Tampa's 4-2 loss and go, "You know, they out-shot Winnipeg 34 to 28 and had 74 shot attempts to the 56 the Jets took. They just needed a couple of bounces to go differently."
And Tampa could probably argue it deserved more that one goal through the first 59 minutes of the game. But as been the case all season, the Lightning keep allowing far too many high quality opportunities against to be able to walk away feeling like it was a case of bad luck.
Even though Tampa had 18 more shot attempts, it was Winnipeg that had more high danger chances (18 to 14), and it was Winnipeg that was 58% on the Money Puck "Deserve To Win O'Meter."
On Winnipeg's first goal, the Jets were able to play pitch and catch at the blue line while all the forwards stacked in front of Vassy. Neal Pionk eventually circled around and made an easy tip in to get the Jets on the board.
On the second goal, Winnipeg was able to drive into the middle rip a shot, and even though Vassy made the first save, the rebound came out to Alex Iafallo, who ripped it home. In a story we have seen all season, even though Tampa was up 16-12 on shots halfway through the game, they were down on the scoreboard 2-1 because guys weren't tied up in between the dots.
It was ultimately Vassy's turnover with less than five minutes to go that sealed the fate for the Lightning, but even before that it wasn't a period where Tampa was making a massive push. Perhaps due to the fatigue of being short of skaters, but Tampa only generated three high danger chances in the third while giving up nine.
The end result is that while Tampa had more attempts, the attempts that were ever going to wind up in the net were in favor for Winnipeg.
Tampa have given up the fourth most goals in the NHL this season and it's not undeserved. The Lightning have given up the 10th most scoring chances and the 8th most high danger chances. Even though Tampa for the season are 51% for the all strengths Corsi (shot attempts for vs shot attempts against), they are 48% on expected goals because they keep having moments like we saw last night.