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Mishkin's Extra Shift: Bolts outplay Blues but end up on losing end

by Dave Mishkin / Tampa Bay Lightning

On this night, the Lightning decisively outplayed the St. Louis Blues. They just didn’t outscore them.

If this game, which came against the hottest team in the league (the Blues had gone 10-0-1 in the previous 11), was a “measuring stick” contest, the Lightning did more than just measure up. Against a big, “heavy”, physical team, the Lightning dictated play throughout the night. They effectively took the body on the Blues and played a hard, determined game. They were responsible with the puck. They made simple plays to get out of their own zone. They won puck battles. They chipped pucks in from the red line and then often retrieved those pucks. When the Blues had the puck, they defended well and protected the front of the net. In short, they played a textbook game.

The reason why they didn’t win it – and win it by multiple goals – was that St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott played a phenomenal game. He stopped screened shots, point blank shots and rebound attempts. His lateral movement was crisp, so he was able to get in position to deny shots following cross-ice seam passes. He was the difference in the game.

It’s true that the Lightning weren’t able to close out a game in which they carried a one-goal lead into the third period. But it wasn’t because they sat on the lead and tried to run out the clock. Instead, the third period was the Lightning’s most dominant frame. They maintained their attack throughout the third – and outshot the Blues, 14-5, in the period. And that shot total doesn’t include a Tyler Johnson attempt that rang off the post. But they couldn’t extend the 1-0 lead.

The Blues tied it with 3:10 remaining. Off an offensive zone faceoff win, St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko zipped a wrist shot off the post and into the upper corner of the net. It was a goal scorer’s goal. But even after allowing that goal, the Lightning continued to press the attack. In the closing minutes, the Bolts had the better looks.

In OT, Jaden Scwartz won the game when he worked the puck past Victor Hedman and skated in alone on Bishop. But it wasn’t due to a Hedman error. He stepped into Schwartz and knocked the puck off his stick. But the puck bounced off Schwartz’s skate and ricocheted forward right back to his stick. The winning goal was the result of a nice finish from Schwartz, but the Lightning were also on the wrong end of some puck luck.

Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the opposition. Tonight, a tip of the cap to Elliott for stealing one for his team. And to Tarasenko for finishing a perfectly-placed shot. But the Lightning still took a point out of this game . Just as importantly, they put on one of their best road performances of the season, one they can hopefully replicate throughout this challenging month.

Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:

Tarasenko’s tying goal, which came with 3:10 remaining in the third period.

Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:

1.Brian Elliott – Blues. 30 saves. Stole win for his club.

2.Cedric Paquette – Lightning. Goal.

3.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. Created dangerous chances. Robbed multiple times by Elliott.

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