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Bolts Drop Second in-a-row as they Fall to Flames in Calgary

For the first time this year, the Tampa Bay Lightning have lost back-to-back games in regulation. After dropping Tuesday night’s game to Winnipeg the Bolts fell to the Calgary Flames Thursday 4-1. Although the Lightning played a relatively good game, it was the final minute of the second period that would be their undoing. Led by Johnny Gaudreau who had a hat-trick and backstopped by great goaltending Jacob Markstrom, the Flames were just the better team on Thursday.

Flames on Fire

Although the Lightning controlled the Flames back in early January, people knew that the Flames were a good team that had caught the short-end of game postpones. Since then the Calgary Flames has become one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Since the beginning of February the Flames are 13-2-1 and 9-1-1 in their last 11 home games. Considered by many around the league to be one of the more complete teams in the league, they are second to only the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Standings. Unlike the Lightning, they had an active month of February, and they look to be at the top of their game. Although the Lightning had won 7 of their last 10, its been clear that they haven’t been at the top of game of recent.

A Special Teams First

Although the Lightning played well 5-on-5 for most of the game, the story of the first would be the special teams. Just 35 seconds into the game Mikhail Sergachev was whistled for hooking. Although they would kill it off, they would take another one over halfway through the period. This time the Flames would capitalize. After working the puck around the zone Tyler Toffoli would play a rebound back behind the net to Gaudreau. With Andrei Vasilevskiy not flush against the post, Gaudreau would flip the puck off of Vasilevskiy’s back and into the net.¬†Late in the first, it would be the Lightning’s turn on the powerplay. They would get a four minute one as Nikita Zadorov took a double minor for high sticking on Pat Maroon. Although the Bolts would get a few chances, Calgary was very strong on the penalty kill throughout the night.

Second Spoiled in a minute.

The second period was a great period of hockey. Both teams had great looks at the net that were met with great goaltending. Late in the period with just over 4 minutes remaining, it seemed like the Lightning had grabbed the edge. Mathieu Joseph would make a nice move at center ice to open up space through the wing. After skating it into zone he feed the puck down low to Ross Colton who would find Alex Killorn streaking towards the nets. Killorn redirected the great pass into the back of the net to tie the game at one. Looking to take the tie into the locker room with a chance to tie the game in third, the game would get away from the Lightning in the final minute. With a minute left to go Gaudreau scored his second of the game behind the goal line by banking it off Vasilevskiy.

Giving up a goal in the last minute of a period can heavily swing momentum. However, giving up two is a recipe for disaster. With under 30 seconds to the Flames showed great puck retrieval and won a battle along the boards. They sent it around to Eric Gudbranson. Gudbranson throw the puck towards the slot and it found the stick of Mikael Backlund who redirected it past Vasilevskiy. This lull spoiled what really was a good period for the Lightning and put an end to the Bolts’ chances to walk away with a win.

Calgary’s great third.

With all the momentum in the world, the Flames played a textbook third period. They defended extremely well while not sitting on the lead. It was straight out of Tampa Bay’s playbook. Calgary kept the Lightning to outside and kept second chances to a minimum. Then with under 14 to go, Geaudreau would add his third tally to complete the hat-trick. On a missed coverage, Gaudrea was left alone in the high slot and fired one past Vasilevskiy. the Lightning would not threaten the rest of the way and for the first time all season they dropped consecutive games in regulation.

Road Ahead.

The Bolt’s will continue their longest road trip of the year as they head north to face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Since losing to the Lightning two weeks ago the Oilers have gone .500. The Lightning will then face Vancouver on Sunday before getting a few days off before Seattle. They will be home for one game against the Rangers before heading back on the road. Tampa Bay will finish up a road heavy month of march in the Northeast.

 

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