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Saturday Night is Not Alright for Listless Lightning

Photo courtesy of Alex Walworth
Photo credit: Alex Walworth Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight here in Amalie Arena. This Eastern Conference Battle with two of the best teams over the last few seasons in this conference. Carolina was in the Eastern Conference Final last season and Tampa the three before that. Both teams have 16 points thus far in this young season so this game could send a season long message. These two combatants met in the preseason, each team winning one game. The Lightning did win the first (of three) regular season game between these two last month. The Hurricanes played in Sunrise last night and lost to the Panthers 5-2. 

In net for the visitors is Pyotr Kochetkov. The life of an NHL backup is rough and Kochetkov has been pressed into  work due to an injury to Frederik Andersen. He has yet to win a game this season starting 0-3.  For the good guys, it’s Jonas Johansson. Safe to say that both teams will be hungry for the win after coming off a loss in their last games. Current NHL Player of The Week, Nikita Kucherov was scratched for tonight’s game for an undisclosed illness. Both teams fighting for this win won’t give much to the other. Should be a good, early season battle.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Game started off with a little jump from both teams. Every stop of play seem to end in a few face washes. This chippiness led to a roughing penalty three minutes into the game by the Lightning’s  Luke Glendening. Less than 20 seconds into the game’s first power play, the Hurricanes’ Teuvo Teravainen snapped a blistering shot past Johansson for the game’s first goal. 

As expected, the rest of the period played out with neither team giving much to the other and every loose puck turned into battles. There was a fight near the end of the period between Lightning nemesis Michael Bunting and Tampa’s Tanner Jeannot. After a few Jeannot jabs, Bunting fell on the ice and the tussle came to an end. Carolina was winning these battles and gaining increased offensive zone time. Ultimately, the initial period ended with the Hurricanes up 1-0. They outshot the Lightning in the period 16 shots to 9. If the Lightning are going to be in this game, they need to come out in the second period determined to tie the game.

Come Out Fighting or Flat

The beginning of the middle frame was much like the first. Puck battles and stingy defensive plays. Both teams were challenging pucks in the neutral zone. After an early flutter shot on Johansson by former Lightning, Tony DeAngelo, the period went almost four minutes without either team registering a shot on goal.  Jacob Slavin slapped a shot which Johansson saved but was unable to control the rebound. That was pounced on by Sebastian Aho who wristed the puck past Johansson for a 2-0 Carolina lead. 

The Lightning did get a power play opportunity a little past the halfway mark of the period. They did muster one shot on Kochetkov which he saved. So much for the man advantage. Down to five minutes remaining in the period and there is a sluggishness developing in the game. Challenging every pass, every loose puck added to this slowdown. You could see in the shots on goal. Carolina got 9 shots on net and Tampa only got off 3 shots on Kochetkov, the winless goalie. 

Playing Hard in the Third 

If the Lightning are to win tonight’s game, it needs to start now. They have put only 12 shots on goal against a goalie who is winless this season. If they don’t find a way to pepper this guy with shots, they won’t have a chance. Four minutes into the third period, the Lightning got another power play chance. Different period, same lackluster power play performance. They were able to get a shot on goal but nothing more. 

The Lightning did seem to be more focused on getting pucks to the net. In the first eight minutes of the final regulation period, they did put six shots on goal after only shooting 12 during the first two periods. Unfortunately, Kochetkov was doing his best Georges Vezina impression. Just as the period was almost halfway over, the Lightning got another power play chance. Let’s see if they can close the gap in this game. 

This third power play opportunity was the worst of the night. No shots on goal and Carolina seemed to have more offensive zone time than Tampa. An offsides, turnovers in the neutral zone and just the inability to even get the puck in the Hurricanes zone were the lowlights. Sure enough, this successful penalty kill spurred the Hurricanes on. A whole nine seconds after the penalty was killed, Brent Burns tipped in a pass from Brady Skjei to give Carolina a 3-0 lead.

With a little over five minutes left in the game, Jon Cooper pulled Johansson to give the Lightning a shot at spoiling Kotchenkov’s shutout. Somehow the Lightning committed a penalty and Carolina put the final nail in the coffin with a power play goal by Stefan Noesen. Hurricanes up now 4-0 and there is no life showing on the Lightning bench. 

Three Stars 

  1. Pyotr Kotchenko – Saved all 21 shots he faced and won his first game of the season
  2. Sebastian Aho – 1 goal and 1 assist 
  3. Brent Burns – 1 goal and 1 assist

What’s Next 

Tuesday night in St. Louis, the Lightning play the Blues. Puck drop at 8:00 pm.

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