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Burns: 3 Things We Learned from Scoreless in St. Louis

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning completed a season-long-tying four-game road trip through the Central Division on Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the Lightning’s second-straight game without a goal and first time since the 2013-14 season (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) getting shut out in consecutive games. The Lightning finished the trip with four of a possible eight points, not a bad result but a bit disappointing after starting with three points from the first two. What prevented the Lightning from ending the roadie on a high? We’ll take a look at why the Bolts were blanked in today’s 3 Things.

1. RESULT DOESN’T EQUAL EFFORT

Call the Lightning unlucky losers.

Tampa Bay outplayed St. Louis for large stretches of Tuesday’s 2-0 loss. The Lightning dominated possession, they moved the puck well and they set up numerous scoring chances against Blues’ goalie Jake Allen.

Unfortunately, they have zero to show for it.

No goals, no win and no points in St. Louis.

“It’s not like we’re playing poorly,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said following the loss. “We’re getting decent opportunities…When you’re in these little funks, things just don’t seem to bounce your way.”

The Lightning outshot the Blues 26-24. Alex Killorn pinged the post from the slot late in the first period, a shot that should have leveled the score 1-1. Steven Stamkos rocketed a one-timer midway through the second that beat Allen but hit off the crossbar.

The chances to score were there for the Lightning. Defensively, Tampa Bay limited St. Louis to only a handful of decent scoring opportunities.

The Bolts, however, just couldn’t capitalize on a quality effort.

The Lightning deserved at least a point in St. Louis and possibly two.

They were unfortunate to come back to Tampa empty-handed.

2. BLOCK PARTY

Quite simply, St. Louis won Tuesday’s game because of its relentless shot blocking against Tampa Bay.

Whenever the Lightning set up an open look on Allen, somebody from St. Louis would recover to get their body between the shooter and the net.

The Blues finished with 17 blocked shots and had nine alone in the first period when the game’s tone was established.

St. Louis’ ability to frustrate Tampa Bay shooters all night was no more evident than an early-game sequence with the contest still scoreless. The Triplets forechecking forced a St. Louis turnover to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and the Lightning proceeded to string together 13-straight passes to keep possession while looking for a shot opportunity.

As Ondrej Palat held the puck near the right boards, Tyler Johnson got free in the slot, and Palat sent the puck his way. Johnson snapped a one-timer that looked to be a Grade A scoring chance, an opportunity he buried numerous times in his 29-goal season a year ago. But before the puck ever reach Allen, a St. Louis defenseman got in front of the shot and deflected it away.

That pattern continued throughout: possession, scoring chance, blocked shot.

Opportunity gone.

Allen made 26 saves to record his first shutout of the season and sixth of his NHL career.

Truthfully, though, the Blues’ 25-year-old netminder didn’t have to make too many difficult saves because of the effort from the five skaters in front of him.

3. BISHOP SHINES IN HOMETOWN

The Lightning have gotten two-straight high-quality efforts in goal from their goaltenders.

On Saturday, backup Kristers Gudlevskis dazzled in his first regular season start since April 11, 2014, making 31 saves to blank the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks through 60 minutes before taking the loss on Jonathan Toews’ winner 17 seconds into overtime.

In St. Louis, Ben Bishop returned from his first game off with one of his best performances of the season. Bishop, who hit the 10,000 career minute milestone six minutes into the game, stopped 22-of-23 St. Louis shots but, like Gudlevskis, got no goal support from his teammates.

The only puck that got past Bishop came off an extremely difficult deflection at the net from Scott Gomez in the first period that Bishop could do nothing about. Colton Parayko shot from the blue line, and Gomez showed a wonderful bit of skill and hand-eye coordination to get his stick at shoulder level and bat the puck out of the air and into the goal.

It was going to take a Herculean effort to beat either Bishop or Allen on Tuesday night as both goalies were in the zone.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, the Blues, specifically Gomez, were the ones to supply it.

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