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Burns: 3 Things from Lightning's first loss of season

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns details Tampa Bay's late-period issues, bad bounces and more.

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tampa Bay tempted fate through the first three games of the regular season, falling behind in each but showing the resiliency to rally and eventually prevail.

The Lightning had no such luck Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Playing the final game in a season-opening, four-game home stand, the Bolts once again found themselves trailing courtesy of a late first-period goal by Matt Duchene and were forced to play catch up the rest of the game. Duchene netted his second goal of the game late in the second, and the Avalanche saw out the win with two more goals in the third, despite getting outshot 12-2 in the period.

The Bolts will try to regroup when they hit the road for six games, starting Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre against the Ottawa Senators.

So why weren't the Lightning able to recover when they had done so three times previously? And is this the start of a worrying trend for the Bolts?

Three Things from a difficult 4-0 drubbing by the Avs.

1. LATE-PERIOD BLUES

Video: Stamkos on Thursday's loss to Colorado

Despite a lethargic start to the game, the Lightning had a chance to end the first period up 1-0 or, at worst, tied 0-0 when Colorado's Jarome Iginla was whistled for tripping with 2:37 remaining in the period.

Instead, Nikita Kucherov nailed the post on a glorious one-timer from the right circle, the Bolts failed to capitalize on the late-period power play and the Avalanche went right back down the ice after killing the penalty to net the game's first goal with 25 seconds to go in the period.

"As a road team, everything just fell into place for them," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Kuch has an unreal chance on the power play, hits the post. Couple big saves and then we give up kind of a tough one there at the end of the period so they get to go in, you know, if we had a pretty decent PP (we) go in 1-0."

The scenario repeated in the second period: less than a minute to go in the period, Patrick Wiercioch threw a puck at the net from the right point that Duchene got a piece of to tip past Ben Bishop.

"Second period we do a lot of good things, we're pushing and they get that- that puck's going three feet wide," Cooper said. "Duchene makes an unreal tip on that and again, last minute of the period, so now we're down two. It's tough."

The Bolts could have been tied 0-0 going into the third period. A couple lapses in concentration at the end of periods, however, proved to be too much to overcome.

2. PLAYING FROM BEHIND

The Lightning have yet to score the first goal in any game this season.

The early deficit hadn't been an issue in the previous three games, the Bolts able to rally in front of the home crowd each time.

But the Lightning played with fire one too many times, and on Thursday night, it came back to burn them.

"You can't keep playing from behind," Cooper said. "So we play from behind in four games. Did we deserve to be playing from behind in all those games? I can't sit here and say that or not. Did we deserve to be playing from behind today? But, we were. It'd be nice to have the lead. I mean, it's been great to have the lead at the end of games, but you just can't keep testing fate because eventually you're not going to be able to come back and we didn't tonight."

Colorado had also given up the opening goal in each of its three games to start 2016-17, Thursday night being the first time the Avalanche had scored first.

The Lightning are now 3-1-0 when giving up the first goal. Last season, they were 11-22-5 when the opponent scored first.

So far, the early deficits haven't been too detrimental.

If the trend continues, however, it could be a big problem for the Bolts going forward.

3. BAD BOUNCES

Video: Bishop on road ahead

Ben Bishop has been snakebit twice already this season on a play that typically might happen once a season.

In the 2016-17 opener against Detroit, the Bolts were comfortably in front 5-3 late until a simple dump in the zone deflected off the top of the glass and ricocheted at a sharp angle right toward the Bolts' goal and an unaware Bishop to bring the Red Wings within a goal.

Soon after, Valtteri Filppula answered with an empty-net marker to end the threat.

Again on Thursday, Bishop was the victim of an unfortunate bounce off the boards that wound up in the back of his net.

This time, however, the bad-luck goal would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the Bolts.

The Lightning outshot Colorado 12-2 over the final period and kept the puck in the offensive zone for the majority of the final 20 minutes in their press to get on the board. Roughly eight minutes into the period, however, with Colorado still yet to register a shot on goal, the Avalanche sent a puck at the boards near the entrance to the Zamboni tunnel.

Instead or riding around the boards behind Bishop's net as the goalie anticipated, the puck took a bad bounce off and caromed out into the left circle. With the net wide open as Bishop struggled mightily to get back in goal, Andreas Martinsen skated onto the loose puck and scored what was likely the easiest of his five career goals.

"It's just unlucky," Bishop said. "Two in three games, so hopefully that's it for the season. But you can't do anything about it. You kind of just have to forget about it and move on."

Colorado's third goal effectively ended any chance the Lightning had of a comeback.

"That's twice it's happened to us now in four games," Cooper said. "Bish did everything right there. That puck's not on the glass, and he plays that 100 out of 100 times and for that to end in right on their stick. It was rolling for them, and we were having a hard time finding the back of the net."

Truly, it was that kind of night for the Lightning, who will try to forget about the disappointing cap to an otherwise successful home stand when they travel to face former head coach Guy Boucher and Ottawa on Saturday.

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