Under different circumstances, the point gained in this overtime loss might be viewed as a positive one. The Lightning were at the end of their longest trip of the season and, outside of the first period and the early minutes of the third, produced another solid performance.
But the Lightning's current situation is dire. They need every point they can possibly earn, especially against a divisional foe ahead of them in the standings. For the second time on this road trip (and third occasion this season), the Lightning took a penalty in overtime and surrendered the winning goal on the ensuing opposition power play. In both this game and in the Anaheim contest on January 17, the penalty came on the opening shift, essentially robbing the Lightning of a chance to win the game in OT. So it was a disappointing end to a game in which the Lightning played well enough to get two points, but didn't.
The Bolts may have played well for the majority of this game, but they had a subpar first period. They were loose in rush coverage and had turnover trouble in the defensive and neutral zones. They also struggled on faceoffs, losing 14 of 20 draws. Fortunately for them, Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding in making 11 first period stops. He had no chance on Jussi Jokinen's shorthanded goal, which came at the end of a poorly-defended three-on-two rush. But the Lightning got that goal back on the same power play - Jonathan Druoin threaded a nifty cross-ice pass to Nikita Kucherov, who slammed a one-timer into the net.
After being fortunate to get out of the first period in a 1-1 tie, the Lightning cleaned up their game in the second. They were much crisper in all three zones and reversed the game's momentum. Like Vasilevskiy in the first, James Reimer made several tough saves in the second, including close-range stops on a couple of Drouin attempts. The Lightning also had a number of shots from the point that were tipped barely wide or over the net.
After the solid second, the Lightning struggled to start the third. They yielded some early chances before settling down. Vasilevskiy made 12 third period saves in all, including two key saves on Jokinen during another Lightning power play. But most of the third was spent in the Florida end, where the Lightning possessed the puck. Reimer also made 12 third period stops, though, and there were other Lightning shots on tips that barely missed the net.
So while both teams had chances to win the game in regulation, the goalies had strong games. The Bolts also squandered their final three power plays - a goal on any of those chances might have won them the game.
As it turned out, the Panthers won the game with a power play goal of their own, a well-executed passing play during the four-on-three. The Lightning are now 1-4 in games decided during overtime. Those are costly points they've left on the table.
The Bolts finished the road trip with a 2-2-2 record, good for six out of 12 points. Their play, with the exception of the Arizona game, was solid during the trip. In the five other contests, they held the opposition to two or fewer goals. That's a positive trend, one they'll need to continue after the All-Star Break.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Jonathan Marchessault's PPG in OT.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- James Reimer - Panthers. 31 saves.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 35 saves.
- Keith Yandle - Panthers. Two assists.