As I have written before after Lightning shootout losses, losing stinks. Losing in a shootout especially stinks. And losing a game in which the opposition rallied to tie the score late in the third period leaves a particularly bad taste.
So let’s agree that the emotions following this shootout loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens aren’t good ones. Now let’s remove those emotions and try to look at the game – and outcome – objectively.
Here’s the glass half-empty perspective. Following goals from Jason Garrison and Ryan Callahan that came 21 seconds apart, the Lightning led Montreal, 3-2, with 6:18 remaining. But they surrendered the tying goal on the very next shift. They also squandered a late third period power play chance - an opportunity that, if successful, could have netted them a regulation win. They also dropped a point to the Habs, who now lead the Lightning by five points in the Atlantic Division standings.
There’s also a glass half-full point of view. The Lightning are desperate for points. They can ill-afford to sustain regulation losses that would drop them further behind the other Atlantic Division teams. Under that lens, it’s significant that the Lightning were able to bank a point in a game that they trailed, 2-1, with under seven minutes left in the third period. Other than their December 15th comeback overtime win in Toronto, the Lightning hadn’t registered even one point in any of the games they’d trailed after two periods. Until tonight. So while they yielded a point to the Canadiens, they didn’t drop two points further behind Montreal. And they picked up a point on Detroit, which lost in Minnesota. Plus, they gained ground on idle Florida, Boston and Ottawa.
As for the game itself, the Lightning played quite well. After a tough start in which they allowed the game’s first nine shots (six during an early Montreal power play) and some Grade-A chances they allowed early in the second, the Lightning controlled much of the action. After those first nine shots against, the Lightning outshot Montreal, 39-25, for the rest of the game. And they generated numerous Grade-A scoring chances themselves. Montreal goalie Mike Condon did allow three goals, but denied a multitude of Lightning point-blank opportunities.
The Lightning ended up chasing a deficit for much of the night because of a couple of isolated mistakes in each of the first two periods. On the first, the Lightning lost coverage off the rush (a problem compounded by a terrific stickhandling move by P.K. Subban). The sequence that led to the second Montreal goal began with an unforced Lightning turnover in the d-zone.
So it was important that the Lightning didn’t allow those two plays to slow their momentum. And their consistent pressure yielded the third period tallies for Garrison and Callahan on back-to-back shifts. Credit the Canadiens for responding in kind on the shift after Callahan’s tally, though. They applied heavy pressure and got the crucial tying goal from Dale Weise.
So, as if often the case with shootout losses, one can take away the positives or the negatives. As for the Lightning, they’ll take their point and get ready for the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Callahan’s goal, which ultimately helped the Lightning earn one point.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Mike Condon – Canadiens. 36 saves.
2.Ryan Callahan – Lightning. Goal.
3.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 31 saves.