For a Tampa Bay Lightning team trying to collect as many points as possible to get back into a playoff position, Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars is a crushing result.
Sure, the Bolts earned a point, giving them at least a point in a season-high five-straight games.
But for large stretches of the game and particularly overtime, the Lightning controlled play. To not come away with both points felt like a missed opportunity.
Tampa Bay led 3-2 going into the third period, and Dallas was 0-20-2 when trailing after two periods.
The Stars ended that dubious stat when Antoine Roussel netted his third goal of the game early in the third period for his first career hat trick and Jamie Benn completed the Stars' comeback 3:47 into overtime
The Bolts had a couple quality scoring chances in close denied by Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen during the extra session. Benn's winner came on the Stars' first shot of overtime.
Against Dallas, the Lightning were playing their first game in six days.
How did they look coming out of the bye?
We'll break it down in 3 Things we learned from an overtime defeat in Dallas.
Video: TBL@DAL: Johnson nets PPG with nifty backhand shot
1. FAST OUT OF THE GATE BUT FADING IN THE FIRST
Coming into Saturday's game, much of the talk revolved around how quickly the Lightning could get back to playing winning hockey.
With five days off and six days between games, there was bound to be some rust when the Bolts retook the ice in Dallas.
But for the first half of the opening period, the Lightning looked like the same team that went 3-0-1 over their last four games prior to the break, the time off doing little to derail their momentum.
Victor Hedman got the Bolts on the board 3:07 into the game, pouncing on a rebound off of Jake Dotchin's deflected shot from the point. Later in the first, the Lightning capitalized on their first power play of the game, Brayden Point working a 2-on-1 with Tyler Johnson and drawing the defenseman toward him before dishing into the slot for a wide-open Johnson, who buried the opportunity for a two-goal advantage.
As the first period progressed, however, the Lightning lost some of their steam.
And they lost the lead.
Antoine Roussel scored two-consecutive goals - he would eventually net three in a row - to level the score going into the first intermission, his second goal coming with just 1:10 remaining in the opening period, the Bolts momentum dissipating as the period closed.
The layoff, it seemed, had a two-fold effect on Tampa Bay: The Lightning were energized early after so much time away from playing but were unable to sustain that energy because they were out of game shape.
"The first period, I think the game was a little bit fast and ultimately when you take five days off and I'm sure it's the same for all the teams, the other team's buzzing around, they're in game mode, and we were probably a little bit in vacation mode," Cooper reasoned after the overtime loss.
Video: TBL@DAL: Hedman bags PPG for his second tally
2. POWER PLAY COMES BACK TO LIFE
The Lightning have owned one of the league's best power plays, ranking in the top five for a majority of the season.
But entering Dallas, the Bolts had gone three-straight games without a power-play goal and had just two power-play goals in their last eight games. Their league ranking suffered as a result, dropping to eighth with a 21 percent conversion rate.
Against the Stars, the power play got uncorked, going a perfect 2-for-2. Victor Hedman continued to demonstrate his effectiveness on the power play, recording two of his three points (a goal and an assist) with the man-advantage. Since December 1, Hedman leads the NHL for power-play assists (13) and ranks tied for fourth for power-play points (16).
The Lightning clearly dominated the special teams portion of Saturday's game (Dallas went 0-for-2 on its power plays).
Unfortunately, it was a case of the Lightning winning the battle but losing the war.
Video: TBL Recap: Lightning come up short in 4-3 OT loss
3. TURNOVERS SINK THE BOLTS
The Bolts had largely cleaned up their turnover issues coming into the break, part of the reason they were able to win three out of four before the bye.
Tampa Bay was sloppy with the puck at times in Dallas though, and it came back to cost them. The Stars are one of the best teams in the league at capitalizing on the other team's errors.
The Lightning got a first-hand look Saturday
"Especially a team like Dallas with so much offense, they're going to turn those into good scoring chances, so it was our plan to try to limit those but they got some good chances off them," Lightning rookie Brayden Point said.
The Lightning held a 2-0 lead in the first period and a 3-2 advantage going into the third but couldn't hold on, mainly because of costly turnovers that gave the Stars life when the defense as a whole was doing a pretty good job of shutting down their potent attack.
"Obviously having a two-goal and then a one-goal lead and giving that up is unacceptable, but it is all about turnovers," Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said. That's how they got their goals and how we knew they were going to play coming into it was they were going to capitalize on that. They are a good transition team, a team that has a lot of offense and can score some goals and quite frankly turnovers killed us."