In their final two games on the recently-completed road trip, the Lightning, though they failed to score a goal, defended very well and kept opposition scoring chances to a minimum. They held the Chicago Blackhawks scoreless through regulation and St. Louis to only one non empty-net goal. In this game against Colorado, however, they did not play with the same sound structure. As a result, the speedy Avalanche were able to take advantage of a couple of open looks to score the two goals they would need to win the game.
Of course, the Lightning again struggled to score – and that was a continuation of the two previous games. They managed only one goal against the Avalanche. Some of that was due to bad luck – the Lightning hit another post. Some of it was due to Colorado’s commitment to blocking shots – the Avs blocked 20 shots in the game. And a lot of it had to do with the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov, who was terrific in making 34 saves. In particular, Varlamov made crucial saves on Valtteri Filppula in the first and Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson in the third when the Lightning were shorthanded.
But there were positives that the Lightning can take out of this game. Their third period was a strong one. They outshot the Avs, 13-5, and were very quick to jump on loose pucks. They also killed three penalties in the frame, including a short five-on-three for Colorado. They’ll need that type of performance for a full 60 minutes when they host Boston on Saturday.
Before the game, Jon Cooper stated that his team needed more shots on goal. Excluding the overtime against Winnipeg (in which two shots got the Lightning’s total to 31), the Bolts failed to crack 30 shots in any of the four games on the road trip. In this one, the Lightning did eclipse 30 shots and attempted a total of 66 shots. That’s a formula that should lead to more than one goal on most nights.
For the first time since the 2013-14 season, the Lightning have gone three straight regular season games without a win. They’ll hope to snap the skid on Saturday before beginning yet another four game road trip.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Varlamov’s key saves, especially the saves on Valtteri Filppula, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson when the Lightning were shorthanded.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Semyon Varlamov – Avalanche. 34 saves for win.
2.Nathan MacKinnon – Avalanche. GWG.
3.Nick Holden – Avalanche. Solid defensive game.