The Tampa Bay Lightning’s three-game road trip began with a 4-2 defeat in Winnipeg. The Jets now find themselves atop the NHL’s western conference and riding a nine-game point streak following their win over the Lightning
Tampa Bay managed just two goals on the night, both came on the power play. Tampa Bay was also forced to play with just five defenseman after injuries to Mikhail Sergacehv, Erik Cernak and Haydn Fleury. Tampa Bay dressed an extra forward but it made for a tough night for the Lightning defense core.
Struggling at Five-on-Five
One of the stories of the season for the Lightning so far has been that they have struggled to score consistently at even strength. They still have one of the best power plays in the league but the five on five struggles have become increasingly prevelant.
Tuesday was the latest example of the struggles but they also were up against one of the best goaltenders in the league in Connor Hellebuyck. Winnipeg is one of the best teams in the NHL defensviely and made it really difficult for the Lightning to get anything going offensively. Having 13 forwards and not being able to roll four consistent lines was another factor that complicated the picture for Tampa Bay as well.
Second Period Woes
After some improvement in their last handful of games, the Lightning’s second period struggles came back again. After Steven Stamkos’ power play goal in the first period gave the Lightning a lead at the first intermission, the Lightning were unable to build on it in the second. Winnipeg scored a pair of goals within about five minutes in the second off of a re-direct and a rebound to take a 2-1 lead
Tampa Bay did not play a bad second period by any means. They managed to outshoot Winnipeg 14-8 in the frame but Winnipeg was able to generate the more dangerous of the chances. Breakdowns in the Lightning zone have seemed to end up in their own net all season and that was the case again Tuesday night, especially in the second period.
Up and Down Night for Vasilevskiy
Andrei Vasilevskiy was having one of his best games of the season through the first 55 minutes Tuesday night. Winnipeg was creating tons of dangerous chances and he was able to keep the Lightning in it for the majority of the game with a thin Lightning defense.
All of his great work came undone by a giveaway while handling the puck in front of his own net. Vlad Namestnikov and Nikolaj Ehlers were able to capitalize on the mistake and this goal ended up putting the game out of reach.
This moment ended up being perhaps the biggest of the game as it ended up being the game winning goal. Winnipeg would later add an empty netter but Nikita Kucherov would add another power play goal to make it 4-2. If not for this gifted goal, the Lightning would still have had a chance to possibly salvage a point.