If you didn't catch Tampa Bay's 6-2 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at AMALIE Arena, you might look at the box score and think the Lightning must have gotten blown out.
That wasn't the case, however.
While the score was ugly, there was plenty to like about Tampa Bay's game against Colorado, which remains without a regulation loss this season. The Lightning controlled play for stretches of the game. Their beleaguered penalty kill came through with two noteworthy kills against a pretty good power play. And the Bolts created plenty of really good scoring opportunities in a season-high 46-shot effort.
Problem was, Colorado backup goalie Pavel Francouz was really, really good, making several incredible, momentum-changing saves. And the Avalanche blitzed the Lightning for three goals in a 2:49 span of the second period to turn a close game into a rout.
We'll break down where it all got away from the Bolts in Three Things we learned from falling to Colorado.
Video: Cooper on Bolts 6-2 loss
1. SECOND PERIOD FLURRY BURIES BOLTS
Tampa Bay liked a lot of what they were able to do in the first period against Colorado.
Despite giving up an early goal 3:09 into the game to Tyson Jost, who would end up with a hat trick on the night, the Lightning battled back to tie the game, Yanni Gourde netting his first of the season with 2:25 remaining in the opening period to send the game into the intermission 1-1.
Saturday's game seemed to be following a similar template to the Lightning's previous two victories at Montreal and Boston: give up the opening goal despite starting well and score right before the break to grab momentum heading into the locker room.
Except unlike Montreal and Boston, the Lightning left that momentum in the room as Colorado scored three goals in a span of 2:49 in the first six minutes of the second period to take complete control of the game.
"I think up until that point we were playing pretty well. We had a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities," Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said. "It was just we ended up giving that first one up and then the two quick ones right after that. Once you get that momentum shift like that, it's hard to get back from. I thought the majority of the game we played the way we wanted to play, but there were definitely times and moments where we didn't and Colorado's too good of a team that when you have those moments, they make the best of it."
Once the Lightning fell behind by three goals, they were forced to open things up in an effort to get back in the game. They nearly did too when Nikita Kucherov was awarded a penalty shot after he was hacked on an open drive to the net.
Kucherov, however, put his backhander an inch over the crossbar, and a minute-and-a-half later, Nazem Kadri got Kevin Shattenkirk on his hip in the slot and zipped a shot past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to extend Colorado's lead to 5-1 and effectively ice the game.
"Sometimes it turns into a game of mistakes. And the team that makes the most usually pays the price," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "I can't sit here and say who made the most mistakes, but the ones we did make it seemed like they put it in the back of the net on every one of them, so it probably magnified those chances. A couple of them, it's easy to get in deep, we don't, and they're a really good, explosive team."
Video: Johnson on missed opportunities
2. FRANCOUZ STEALS THE SHOW
Colorado backup goaltender Pavel Francouz made just his second NHL start Saturday night.
If his play continues the way it did in Tampa, he'll be getting many, many more.
Francouz made a career high 44 saves on 46 shots to defeat Tampa Bay. But it wasn't just the volume of saves Francouz had. The 29 year old made timely saves and ones with a high degree of difficulty.
"NHL goalie, he made NHL saves," Cooper said. "That's why he's in the League I guess. He played the position well. Some of those goals, probably some of our shots that normally go in for us didn't, and probably some of the shots that maybe don't go in for them did tonight. It's just the way it was."
With the game still hanging in the balance, Francouz was magnificent. He absolutely robbed Ondrej Palat on what everybody inside AMALIE Arena thought was the game-tying goal when he slid over to deny Palat's wide-open one-timer on the back post to keep the Avalanche in the lead 1-0. He continued to make tough stop after tough stop as the first period wound down, only wavering when Yanni Gourde was able to get a tip on Ryan McDonagh's backhander from the slot.
The Lightning probably should have entered the first intermission up a goal or maybe even two, but Francouz was just too good on this night.
"I think it's always tough when you feel like the other team's goalie beats you sometimes," Shattenkirk said. "Credit to him for making some big saves for sure, especially early on I think power play and some saves in the first and early in the second that were huge. We've just got to find a way to get those by him, and obviously it's a different ball game."
Maybe the Lightning still lose even if they come into the first intermission ahead, but certainly Francouz's saves to keep it level after one were a game-changer.
Video: Shattenkirk on giving up chances
3. SHOT DISPARITY
Tampa Bay registered a season-high 46 shots against Colorado.
The Lightning held the Avalanche to 24 shots, the fewest they've allowed all season.
The Bolts finished with a plus-22 shot differential.
Yet they lost by four goals.
Sometimes, hockey just doesn't make sense.
Through the first six games of the season, one of the hot topics surrounding the Bolts revolved around their inability to get shots on net - they ranked next-to-last in the NHL in shots for - and their inability to stop other teams from getting shots on net - they ranked third for most shots allowed a game.
Against Colorado, they sent everything but the kitchen sink at the Avalanche net and could only come away with two goals. As mentioned previously, Francouz was a big reason why. But the Lightning just couldn't take advantage of their numerous opportunities. And when the Avalanche did get a scoring chance, they buried it.
"The shots were obviously, there's a big difference in shots, there's a huge difference in zone time, but all that matters is how many that go in the net, and they had way more than us," Cooper said.
If nothing else, the Lightning can point to Saturday's game as a step in the right direction in terms of getting pucks to the net and creating opportunities.
Now it's just a matter of cashing in on those chances.
"We've been on the road pretty much the entire year, since opening night," Cooper said. "There is a history in this league coming back off of long road trips, especially a fairly successful one that we had that you're hoping you can get through the game. Did our guys battle, did they work, did they do everything they could? They did. We got burned by a good team on a few errors in execution that we've got to clean up. That's it. But there will be some positives we can pull out of this game, it's just we can't pull the result out as a positive."