The Tampa Bay Lightning played one of their most complete games of the season on Tuesday in Anaheim, the second positive performance in a row to start a long, six-game road trip on the West Coast.
A 2-1 overtime loss to the Ducks, therefore, might feel like a punch in the gut for a Lightning team struggling to string together consecutive victories at this point in the season.
But the Bolts should feel encouraged by their effort against the Pacific Division-leading Ducks. They controlled play for large stretches of the game. They limited the amount of good looks Anaheim got on goal. They continued to focus on their net and play sound defensively.
And the Lightning earned an important point, giving them three out of a possible four to start the trip.
There was a lot of good (and some not so good) in Tampa Bay's 2-1 defeat on Tuesday.
We'll break down the biggest takeaways in 3 Things we learned from an overtime loss in Anaheim.
Video: Cooper on OT loss to Anaheim Ducks
1. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
In the first period, the Lightning got a pair of Grade-A chances to score the game's opening goal only to miss the target on both.
Although early in the game, it felt like those misfires might come back to haunt the Bolts.
And they did.
The first came shortly after puck drop, Vladislav Namestnikov taking ownership of the puck down near the bottom half of the left circle on a 2-on-1 with Nikita Kucherov to his right in the slot. Namestnikov put a pass right on Kucherov's tape, but the Bolts' leading scorer mistimed his shot by a fraction, sending his one-timer right of the open net.
Later, on a power play, Jonathan Drouin feathered a cross-ice pass through the crease and onto the opposite post for Valtteri Filppula. Anaheim goaltender John Gibson was late to react, giving Filppula plenty of net to aim for once he received the pass. He couldn't settle the bouncing puck, however, and his shot lifted high over the target, the Bolts' best chance to score falling by the wayside.
Had the Lightning been able to convert just one of those opportunities, we're likely recapping a win right now.
Video: TBL@ANA: Bishop denies multiple shots at doorstep
2. LIMITING SHOTS
The Lightning held Anaheim to just two shots in the opening period.
That tied a season low for the Bolts for least amount of shots surrendered in a period.
By the end of the second period, the Lightning had twice as many shots as the Ducks, holding an 18-9 advantage.
The Bolts came into Anaheim with the game plan of playing a smart road game, and it showed in their defensive approach. They limited the amount of turnovers in their own zone by making the safe pass rather than the spectacular. They shut down passing lanes and got in the way of shots. And they kept Anaheim out of the scoring zone, forcing the Ducks to take the bulk of their attempts from the perimeter.
The result was superlative defensive effort over the length of the game with very few mistakes, seemingly a rarity for the Bolts over the last month or more.
The Ducks finished with just 21 shots, the fourth time this season the Lightning have given up 21 or less shots.
Ironically, the Bolts have lost all four of those games, going 0-3-1, Tuesday's game in Anaheim the only time they've gotten a point.
Continued defensive efforts like the one the Lightning put forth against the Ducks, however, will lead to more wins and more points.
The Bolts have given up eight goals combined over the last four games. Teams that hold opponents to two goals a game are teams that are going to win more often than not.
Video: Stralman on overtime loss to Anaheim
3. IMPROVING PENALTY KILL
The Lightning penalty kill is currently trending upward.
Of course, Anaheim's overtime game-winner came on a power play, Rickard Rakell snapping a shot off a face-off in the Bolts' zone past Bishop four seconds into the 4-on-3 advantage, catching everybody by surprise.
But there wasn't much the Lightning penalty kill could do in that situation, save for winning the draw.
Prior to that overtime goal, Tampa Bay's penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 in regulation, including a big kill late in the third period to preserve the 1-1 tie.
The Bolts generated momentum from their penalty kill too. After that last kill in regulation, Tampa Bay controlled the puck through the final minutes of the third and set up a couple of good chances to win the game.
The Lightning's performance on the penalty kill in Anaheim is part of a continued improvement for the beleaguered special teams unit. The Bolts went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill a night earlier against Los Angeles and hadn't allowed a power-play goal in three of their previous five games entering Anaheim.
Although the final score sheet will show the Lightning penalty kill surrendered a goal (as well as the most important goal of the game), the unit deserves praise for its play against the Ducks.