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Burns: 3 Things from a loss to Nashville

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 6-1 loss to Nashville

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tampa Bay entered its five-game home stand with hopes of stringing together a few wins and earning enough points to keep pace with the top half of the Atlantic Division and move into one of the top three spots for an automatic playoff berth.

The Lightning home stand started promising enough, the Bolts winning two of their first three and grabbing five of a possible six points.

The final two games have been a major let down however.

After falling 6-4 to Winnipeg on Tuesday, a game in which the Lightning trailed 4-1 at one point in the third period, the Bolts closed out the five-game stretch at home with another subpar performance, this time dropping a 6-1 decision to the Nashville Predators.

Tampa Bay finishes its longest home stretch of the season with a 2-2-1 record.

The road doesn't get any easier either. The Lightning travel to the Keystone State to play a road back-to-back set over the weekend, starting with Philadelphia on Saturday and ending with defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh on Sunday.

So what were the overlying issues in Thursday's game? We'll try to break them down in 3 Things from a loss to Nashville.

Video: Cooper on Bolts' play moving forward

1. ANOTHER GAME, ANOTHER OPPONENT SCORES FIRST

When Sticks of Fire starts their 'I believe that we will win' chant at the beginning of a game and the Lightning are already trailing 1-0, there's a problem.

Unfortunately that scenario has played out a few times this season at AMALIE Arena.

On Thursday, Mike Fisher converted an early power play for Nashville, scoring 2:25 into the first period, forcing the Lightning to play from behind the majority of the game.

Tampa Bay has given up the opening goal in 26 of its 40 games so far this season and in six of its last seven games.

"I thought at the beginning of the game, we had a lot of good opportunities, whether it be little tips or shots that just went wide," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. "You have to give (Pekka) Rinne credit, he made some huge saves at the beginning. A couple of those go in, obviously changes the momentum a little bit, changes the score and we might have a different conversation right now."

Additionally, the Lightning have gone down by two goals in six of their last seven games. They've proven an ability to rally as they've come back to win two and earn points from three.

But, that recipe is certainly not one suited for long-term success.

 Video: Hedman on Thursday's 6-1 loss to NSH

2. ONCE RESOLUTE PENALTY KILL CONTINUES TO FALTER

Tampa Bay's penalty kill continues to leak oil this season, a head-scratching transformation after ranking among the best in the NHL the past couple seasons.

During the 2014-15 Stanley Cup final season, the Lightning were tied for seventh in the league on the penalty kill at 83.7 percent.

Last season, the Bolts were even better, killing penalties at an 84 percent rate, also ranking seventh in the league.

Currently, the Lightning's penalty kill is 24th in the league at 79.4 percent. The special teams unit gave up another goal on Thursday, Nashville scoring 48 seconds into its opening power play to give the Predators an early lead.

The Lightning never seemed to recover after going down.

"You know, it's tough when you're playing from behind like that, but, at the same time, we can't let that bother us," Johnson said. "It's an 82-game season. It happens a lot that you play from behind. There are a lot of games where things just really don't go your way and they go the way for the other team. And then there are games where things are going your way when quite frankly you don't deserve it. So we just got to keep plugging away at it. I think we kind of let up after that (first goal). Like you said, we got deflated. That's not our team. That's not what we want to be. We definitely have to be better than what we were."

 Video: Johnson on Bolts' lack of consistency

3. NO DEFENSE

The Lightning gave up six goals on Thursday, tying a season high for most goals allowed this season.

The Bolts, in fact, have allowed six goals in each of the last two games.

That's the most goals the Lightning have surrendered in back-to-back games since the 2012-13 season when they gave up six to Pittsburgh in a 6-3 loss on April 11 and followed with a 6-5 overtime loss at Washington two days later.

"I think effort was there tonight, and it's just one of those games where the puck goes into your net and you can't find a way to score," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "I definitely don't think it was a 6-1 game. It's kind of a tough one to explain, but we have to take the effort with us. We have a big road trip coming up, and we have to get points. We have to forget about the result and take what was positive out of this game."

The positives, according to Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, were that the Bolts never stopped working and had considerably more shot attempts than the Predators.

"We had 70 shot attempts at the net." Cooper said. "We held them to barely 35 or something like that. There's a lot to build on that. We didn't really give them much the whole night. They did an exceptional job, well, you look at it both ways, did they do an exceptional job blocking shots or did we shoot them into them? They had 24 blocked shots. That's a lot. That's more than shots on goal they had. They were defending as well, but I thought we did a lot of good things. We didn't have a ton of scoring chances either, so that's what I'm saying. It's hard to say if the score was indicative of the game, but, as you said, we're going to wake up in the morning and it's going to say 6-1, so I guess it was a 6-1 game."

 

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