LIGHTNING RECAP – JANUARY 12
By Leo Haggerty

GAMES 35 THROUGH 37

Again, we are calling an audible.  With the Bucs playing the early game on Sunday and the Bolts have their Monday game cancelled, we moved Rob Kriete’s GAME ON column up to Tuesday and backed our LIGHTNING RECAP up to today.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

Tampa Bay welcomes back a plethora of players from injury and Covid protocols during this four game sequence that became a trio of games after the New Jersey tilt had to be postponed.  The Bolts captured four out of a possible six point in this three game stretch.  Below is how the Lightning accomplished that feat.  Enjoy.

Caught up with F Mathieu Joseph and HC Jon Cooper along with F Ross Colton before the game with the Blue Jackets in Columbus.  Below are their responses to my qusetions.

LH : Your team isn’t used to being on the south end of a 9-3 or 4-0 score.  That’s not sitting to well in your room, is it?

MJ : No, we have high standards in this room.  We go into every game thinking we have a chance to win.  Losing games like that, maybe we were a little off but, at the same time, there’s so many games.  You can turn the page pretty quick and think about the other one and try to fix things and practice hard like we did today.  So, obviously, we not happy with the way we played the last couple games but it’s something we can fix.  Sometimes, it takes time with some guys coming in from Covid and coming back from Covid and stuff like that.  So, I think, when we have the right mindset we just have to execute our game plan in the game.

LH : In baseball they call it a slump.  You just talked about being, maybe, in a funk.  Is that the case?

JC : Ah, I don’t think that we’re in a funk.  There’s just been a lot of disruptions.  We have a multitude of players come in, different guys are playing games, guys are getting their first games in, you don’t know who’s playing and who’s out just before the game.  That’s disruption and we’re going through that right now.  Even today, we’re suppose to have a player come in and practice and the equipment isn’t here.  There’s just disruption and call it funk or call it a slump, I don’t know.  Like I said, we played a couple of decent games against the Rangers and only got one point out of it.  I think it’s a little bit better moving forward.  I like the fact that, when you only get one point in four games, alarms are going off.  That’s the sign of a team that’s used to winning and winning a lot.  When we get back, with our standards as high as they are, I have no doubt that these guys will be back.

LH : How hard is it to come to the arena and not know who’s going to test positive and who’s going to play and who is not?

RC : Yeah, that’s a good question.  It is pretty tough.  You have to come with the same mindset every day that you’re not going to test positive for it.  You got to be ready to play but, at the same time, if you are out of the lineup, you have to have that mindset that someone may test positive and it’s your time to be ready to go.  Just be ready to play.  So, obviously, it’s unfortunate right now, the circumstances.  Guys have adapted quite well.  We have that next guy mentality and, I think, it’s been working for us.

 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING  7  COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS 2

Tampa Bay, who had many of their players out for testing positive for Covid, shook of the rust from that extended period of inactivity and blasted Columbus by a count of 7-2.  That advanced the Lightning to 22-8-5 and that comes out to 49 points.  The loss dropped the Blue Jackets to 15-15-1 and that equates to 31 points.

The Bolts jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period.  With Tampa Bay on the power play, F Ondrej Palat (11) opened the scoring with a slap shot that eluded G Joonas Korpisalo (29 saves on 36 shots) at 4:53.  F Brayden Point (9) and D Victor Hedman (28) recorded the assists to put the Lightning up 1-0.

Tampa Bay extended their lead to 2-zip at 9:30. Again, it was Palat (12) with a tip in of a pass from D Ryan McDonagh (8) and Point (10) getting the other helper.

The Bolts made it 3-nil at 17:27 of the opening period.  F Corey Perry (9) wristed the biscuit into the basket with the Lightning having the man advantage.  F Pat Maroon (5) and D Mikhail Sergachev (13) were credited with the assists.

Columbus cut the margin just 37 seconds into the middle period.  D Dean Kukan (1) wristed the rubber disk into the back of the net to reduce the lead to 3-1.

Just a second under a minute later, Point (11) scored with his own wrist shot.  D Cal Foote (2) and Palat (15) provider the helpers and Tampa Bay stretched their lead to 4-1.

The Blue Jackets sliced into the lead at 4:16 of the second period.  F Gustav Nyquist (7) put a wrist shot behind G Andrei Vasilevskiy (20 saves on 22 shots) to trim the lead to 4-2.

The Lightning stretch their lead to 5-2 with their third power play marker of the contest.  This time it was Maroon (7) with a backhander that tickled the twine at 12:19. Perry (9) along with F Anthony Cirelli (10) provided the helpers

Tampa Bay notched the only two goals of the final period.  F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (4) snapped a shot over the goal line just 36 ticks into the third period.  D Jan Rutta (6) recorded the only assist to put the Bolts up 6-2.

F Alex Killorn (10) posted the last Lightning tally at 12:20 with a wrist shot.  Cirelli (11) and F Steven Stamkos (24) posted the assists making the final count 7-2 in favor of Tampa Bay.

LH : You talked today about moving on from New York.  How hard is it to not let that loss become two?

JC : Well, it’s a tough league to win in.  If you take anybody lightly, the chances of winning are not too good.  I thought we’d be better.  Vasey gets another game under his belt.  Cirelli and Cernak, some of these guys that have been off for awhile.  You know that they’re just going to get better and they were.  Our team game was better.  Obviously, it helps to get out to the lead that we got to in the beginning but we played with a little bit of confidence today so it was good.

CALGARY FLAMES 1  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4 

Had an opportunity to ask Cooper a question after the morning skate prior to the Flames contest.  His response to my query is below.

LH : Another team that you have seen in a couple of years.  Do you expect that it will take some ice time in the first period to get acclimated to what Calgary is?

JC : I don’t so.  I think, you just look at their roster and how they play and who their coach is, if you don’t have your work boots on tonight it’s going to be a long night for you.  I don’t think that there will be any dipping your toes in the water with this one.

Tampa Bay combined opportunistic scoring with great goaltending to defeat Calgary 4-1 at Amalie Arena.  The win rocketed the Lightning to 23-8-5 and that equates to 51 points.  The loss plummeted the Flames to 17-9-6 and that computes to 40 points.

After a scoreless first period, Tampa Bay broke the ice at 12:21 of the middle period.  Perry (10) was the recipient of a beautiful set up from Bellemare (6) and Hedman (29) depositing the puck behind G Dan Vlader (29 saves on 33 shots) to put the Lightning up 1-0.

The Bolts extended the lead at 2:52 of the final period. Point (12) was set up perfectly at the far post by F Nikita Kucherov (4) and just had to redirect the rubber disk into an open net.  McDonagh (9) was credited with the other assist and the Lightning now held a 2-0 advantage.

The Lightning made it 3-zip at 10:10 of the third period.  Palat (13) lit the lamp with a great feed from Kucherov (5) from behind the net.

The Bolts made it 4-nil just 14 seconds later. Killorn (11) on the rush took a pretty lead pass from Stamkos (25) and made no mistake.  McDonagh provided the other assist.

The Flames avoided the shutout at 15:54 of the final period.  F Dillon Dube (4) slid the puck past Vasilevskiy (26 saves on 27shots) to cut the lead to 4-1 but it was too little and too late.

LH : It look like on you two assists that you didn’t have a chance to see Point or Palat.  Did you just feel that they were going to be there?

NK : No, I saw them.  I looked.  They were open.

BOSTON BRUINS 5  TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 2

Boston scored on their first two shots of the contest and never looked back beating Tampa Bay 5-2 at Amalie Arena.  The victory propelled the Bruins to 18-11-2 and that adds up to 38 points.  The loss dropped the Lightning to 23-9-5 and that equates to 51 points.

 The Bruins dented the scoreboard first with their opening shot of the contest at 11:11 of the first period.  F David Pastrnak (10) blasted a slap shot that eluded G Vasilevskiy (25 saves on 29 shots) to give the visitors a quick 1-0 advantage.

Boston made it 2-0 at 6:10 of the opening period on their second shot of the contest.  After a Lightning turnover in the own zone, Pastrnak (11) notched his second marker of the evening with a rebound tip in from the crease.

The Beantown Brigade made it 3-0 just 26 ticks into the middle period.  F Brad Marchand (13) redirected a past from the point into the back of the net.

Boston extended their lead at 14:54 of the second period.  After another Bolts turnover in the own zone, F Anton Blidh (2) put the biscuit in the basket to make it 4-nil.

Tampa Bay scored their first goal of the contest just 24 seconds into the third period.  Palat (14) maneuvered the rubber disk past G Linus Ullmark (27 saves on 29 shots) with Stamkos (26) and Sergachev (14) being credited with the assists.  That closed the gap to 4-1.

The Lightning made it 4-2 at 11:20 of the final period.  Point (13) had his slap shot deflect of a Bruins stick and into the top of the net.  D Eric Cernak (4) and Sergachev (15) had the helpers and, all of a sudden, it got interesting.

Sadly, that’s all it would be.  Boston scored an empty net tally at 17:11 with Marchant (14) getting the marker and that made the final arithmetic 5-2 in favor of the Bruins.

Got a chance to pose a question to Cooper after the loss to Boson.  Below is his response to my question.

LH : Early on, it looked like the Bruins took a page from the Carolina playbook and really put pressure on the forecheck taking away time and space.  Was that the case?

JC : Ah, I’m not to sure about that. I think it was more that we were a little lackadaisical especially on that second goal.  One the first one, we gave up the middle of the ice and there’s a gap and it goes in.  The second one, that one is on us.  We were just taking it back and give them some credit for putting some pressure on us.  We had some opportunities too.  I can’t sit here and say that you know, I think the rink was tilted. It wasn’t that but, you know, we were off a bit.  They capitalized and jumped out to a good start and we just couldn’t come back.  We just need to turn the page on this one and get ready for Jersey.

Unfortunately, the contest in New Jersey against the Devils had to be postponed.  The next Lightning contest will be on January 10th against the Sabres to start the next seven day sequence of games.