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Burns: 3 things from a shootout loss to the Bruins

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 4-3 loss in the shootout

by Bryan Burns /

The first game back at home following an extended road trip is always a difficult proposition for NHL teams.

The Tampa Bay Lightning found out why on Thursday in their first game back at AMALIE Arena since October 20.

The Lightning fell behind 2-0 to the Boston Bruins, the fourth time in five home games this year they've gone down by a 2-0 count, before rallying twice to send the game to overtime and earn a point.

Still, the Bolts left another point on the board when they were unable to take Boston out in a shootout, the Bruins winning in the 10th round on Jimmy Hayes' conversion.

The Lightning will try to get back in the win column when they host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, completing the season series against the Devils in the first 12 games of the season.

We'll break down what went right and what went wrong for the Bolts with 3 Things from Thursday's shootout loss.

Video: BOS@TBL: Johnson's wrister beats Rask for a PPG

Tampa Bay center Tyler Johnson will be the first to admit he hasn't put up the scoring production expected of him through the first 10 games of the season.

Johnson entered Thursday's game with only two goals and four points, ranking tied for seventh on the Bolts for scoring.

On Thursday, however, he broke out of his mini-slump, netting a pair of goals for his first multi-goal game of the season and 11th of his career.

Hopefully, the scoring outburst against the Bruins is only the start for Johnson.

"It's nice getting some breaks here," Johnson said. "It's one of those things where sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. Luckily, I got them today, so hopefully I can carry that over, have some confidence. I thought our line played better. We're starting to get a little bit more chemistry, starting to learn from each other, had a good talk today to figure some things out and I thought it ran a little bit smoother."

Johnson scored a couple different ways for his third and fourth goals of the season. In the second period with the Lightning trailing 3-1 and on the power play, Johnson received the puck in the right circle and snapped a wrist shot that was too fast for Boston goalie Tuukka Rask to catch with his glove to get the Bolts within a goal.

Midway through the third, Johnson got his stick up high to tip Braydon Coburn's shot from the point and beat Rask again to tie the score 3-3. Johnson's goal was reviewed, but it was determined his stick never went above the crossbar when he got a piece of Coburn's blast.

"At the end of the day, at the end of the year, it all evens out," Johnson said about his early struggles. "You've just got to keep on working, work on your defensive game, your reliability and just work on that."

Video: BOS@TBL: Hedman blisters PPG past Rask

The Lightning power play has flourished under new assistant coach Todd Richards, the veteran NHL bench boss tweaking the special teams unit during training camp to maximize its potential.

So far through 11 games this season, the results have been very encouraging.

Entering Thursday's game against Boston, the Lightning ranked fifth in the NHL for power-play success, converting 24.4 percent of their chances.

The Bolts added two more to their season-long tally against the Bruins, both coming at critical moments for the Bolts.

Down 2-0 after a quick start by Boston, the Bolts battled back thanks to their power-play unit. Nikita Kucherov dropped a pass from the left wing back to the point for Victor Hedman, who blistered a shot past Rask. Seconds earlier, Kucherov had hit the post with a screamer from the left circle.

"We want to keep up the momentum and keep up the pace, and if we score that's obviously the end result you want every time you step on there," Hedman said. "But you can't lose momentum. Momentum I think is the biggest key going into a power play. I think we've done a good job of both entering the zone and making plays and getting stuff set up. We've just got to keep that going, keep working on it and try and get better."

In the second period after Boston went back in front by two goals, the Lightning power-play unit again brought the Bolts back, this time Tyler Johnson getting on the score sheet with his third goal of the season (and second on the power play) with a well-placed wrist shot from the right dot.

"Special teams are big, especially when you're down, now you need your power play to bail you out just as when you're up, you need your penalty kill to bail you out." Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Special teams have been a big part of why we're above .500."

The Lightning have scored a power-play goal in over half of their games so far this season (6 of 11) and multiple power-play goals in five of 11 games.

 Video: BOS@TBL: Vasilevskiy makes a save on Miller's shot


Lightning rookie Brayden Point is 2-for-2 in his only career shootout attempts in the National Hockey League.

Perhaps a few of the Bolts' veterans need to grab a couple pointers from the kid.

Point again showed tremendous poise after Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were all denied on the Bolts' first three attempts. Point confidently approached the puck in Round 4 and calmly slotted a shot past Rask to give Tampa Bay an opening.
"I've got to start put those in during the game," said Point, referring to the fact he's yet to score his first career NHL goal despite coming oh-so-close on numerous occasions.

Boston's Riley Nash quickly closed that opening, however, beating Andrei Vasilevskiy to extend the shootout.

Filppula, Kucherov, Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman and Vladislav Namestnikov all had shootout attempts for the Bolts.

All failed.

Vasilevskiy made several big-time stops in the shootout to keep it going.

The Bolts couldn't reward him, however, for his effort.

"Our goalie gave us a chance to win it," Cooper said, lamenting the tremendous performance Vasilevskiy displayed in denying 8-of-10 Boston shootout chances. "You know how it is when you get to a shootout, flip a coin, and when you start getting…10 guys deep, goalies did their job. Somebody's got to put it in and unfortunately for us their guy did."

The Bolts need to find a few more guys who can do the job like Point has shown in his first couple of shootout attempts.

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