Tampa Bay Lightning Lose Again to Ottawa, Need Points as Playoff Race Tightens

Ottawa Senators v Tampa Bay Lightning
Ottawa Senators v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost their second straight game at home to the last place team in the Atlantic Division, the Ottawa Senators. After a disappointing and forgetful defeat to the Florida Panthers 9-2 on Saturday, the Lightning were in prime bounce-back position at home against Ottawa which backfired.

The first half of the first period was spent mostly in Ottawa's end, but Ottawa stayed patient and composed which ended up benefiting them. At 10:45 in the first period, Ottawa's Tim Stutzle put a sweet move on Lightning rookie defenseman, Emil Lilleberg and buried one past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Ottawa's momentum continued as former Lightning forward , Mathieu Joseph scored back-to-back goals in his old arena to continue the Ottawa onslaught.

It was not until 16:55 in the second period that the Lightning finally got on the board thanks to a nice bounce off the boards onto Mitchell Chaffee's stick just outside of the crease to put the Bolts on the board. Brayden Point was the lone other goal-scorer for the Bolts as he scored late in the 3rd period thanks to a nice dish from Brandon Hagel. With a final score of 4-2, the Lightning are in must-win mode as they host the Washington Capitals to end their four-game homestand.

The Lightning are in dire need of points as the playoff race tightens. The Bolts currently stand with 65 points which is good for the first wild card spot in the East. Directly behind them, the Detroit Red Wings have 64 points, but with two fewer games. Detroit are set to host the Colorado Avalanche next on Thursday as they hunt up the standings.

3 keys to victory for the Lightning when they host the Washington Capitals on Thursday:

Make Clean Passes - Often when the Lightning are struggling, they tend to get sloppy or sometimes too fancy when passing the puck. They need to make a great first pass, then find your playmakers in Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos or Brandon Hagel to help put the puck into the net.

Win Puck Battles - A key component to the defeat vs Ottawa was the loss of puck battles deep in Ottawa's end. The Lightning need the bottom 6 forwards to chip and chase and get nasty on the boards to come out with possession of the puck in the opponent's territory.

Defenseman Can't Get in Too Deep - At least twice last night, Victor Hedman got caught being too deep into Ottawa's end which immediately turned into an odd-man rush for Ottawa which turned into goals. The aggressiveness to succeed offensively for defensemen is admirable but need to make sure it does not lead to easy chances for the opposition going in the other direction.