The Tampa Bay Lightning let some bad habits creep back into their play on Saturday afternoon, and it cost them dearly. The Lightning, up 3-1 after two periods, surrendered four goals in the third, dropping a 5-3 decision to the New Jersey Devils.
The loss snapped a nine-game point streak for the Lightning as they had gone 6-0-3 their last nine games.
You could feel the momentum begin to shift in the late second period. The first 35 minutes of the game, the Lightning played the way we expected them to play—good defense, good puck movement, and creating good scoring chances.
In the third period, they got away from that game letting New Jersey score four unanswered goals beating the Stanley Cup Champions.
Jon Cooper talked about his team’s efforts after the game. “It wasn’t the third. Their team outworked us. It’s that simple. It’s the National Hockey League, and if you’re going to get outworked, you’re playing with fire. There was a sense of arrogance we had about us thinking we got up 3-1 and this was going to be easy. We got what we deserved.”
Cooper also talked about how the Lightning played was so reminiscent of seasons past when the Lightning would play great hockey for two periods and then make mistakes not playing within their system in the third period.
“You’ve just got to hope that game, the way we played, that that’s over because there’s going to be some bad stretches for us if that continues. Some old bad habits crept into our game from years when we didn’t go very far in the playoffs. So it’s hopefully a quick learning experience for us.”
The Lightning scored first as Jan Rutta scored his second goal to give the Bolts an early 1-0 lead. After the Devils tied it at one, a Pat Maroon power-play goal put the Lightning up 2-1 after the first period.
Victor Hedman had the second period’s only goal, his third of the season to put the Bolts up 3-1. Hedman now has 16 points on the season, which ties him for the lead among NHL defensemen.
In the third period, the arena became quiet after Braydon Point was tripped by Ryan Graves, sending him awkwardly into the boards behind the New Jersey net. He got up, doubled over in pain. He was awarded a penalty shot but was stopped on the attempt by Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.
Cooper appeared to be concerned after the game when asked about the status of Point for today’s game. Let’s see how he feels, Cooper said. “I can’t imagine he’s going to feel good. So we’ll see. Hopefully, he’s okay.”
New Jersey goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood played outstanding the last 30 minutes of the game. He stopped Alex Killorn on a breakaway to keep it a one goal game.
The Lightning won’t have to wait long to get back on the ice. They will play the Minnesota Wild at Amalie Arena in another matinee affair Sunday Afternoon.
The Wild are one of the best teams in the Western Conference with an 11-6 record and are tied for first in the Central Division. This will be the first opportunity for the Lightning to play against last year’s Rookie of the Year, Kirill Kaprizov.