The Tampa Bay Lightning’s five game Western Conference road-trip began with a 4-1 loss in Nashville against the Predators in the second game of a back-to-back. Nikita Kucherov’s 11 game point streak came to an end as he was held without a point for the first time since November 14th.
Ryan McDonagh had a goal and assist for Nashville and Alex Barre-Boulet recorded the only goal of the night for Tampa Bay.
Road Struggles Continue
The Lightning’s struggles away from home continued Thursday night as they are now 4-8-2 on the road. Three of those eight losses on the road have also come in the second game of back-to-back’s. Tampa Bay has also now dropped their last three on the road as well as they have continued to have a hard time away from home like they did last season.
Starting the road trip with a second game of a back-to-back is certainly a difficult card to draw. The trip is only going to get more difficult as they head to Seattle and western Canada for one of the toughest trips of the year. Last year, the Lightning won in Seattle and Vancouver but lost in Calgary and Edmonton
Night and Day for Special Teams
After the Lightning put on a special teams masterclass Wednesday against Pittsburgh, the script was flipped on them in Nashville. The Predators scored twice in three chances on the power play while the Lightning went empty in their four chances on the man advantage.
A cold night on the power play spelled a cold night for the Lightning offensively and ended the point streak for Kucherov at 11 games. The Lightning’s game has become so dependent on their power play clicking and their power play runs through Kucherov. If both are not working on a given night, that makes for an uphill battle for this team at the moment.
Johansson as the Backup
Thursday marked Jonas Johansson’s second start as the true backup goaltender for Tampa Bay after Andrei Vasilevskiy’s return. His first start in Arizona did not go great and neither did Thursday in Nashville. The Predators put four past him on 29 shots. A couple of their goals came on second chance opportunities and shots from distance through traffic.
The Lightning need to be better in front of him as many of his starts are going to be on the second game of back-to-backs. It has to be difficult as well for Johansson to adjust from being the starter for two months and then going into a full time backup role. He should be expected to better as he continues to adjust to the new reality that he will not be playing nearly as frequently as he did in the fist 20 games fo the season.