There's typically a "glass half-full, glass half-empty" feeling about a shootout loss and this one is no different. But I'm leaning more towards "half-full" than "half-empty". Here's why.
Overall, this was a strong performance for the Lightning. One in which they were playing the second half of a back-to-back against a rested opponent. From the start of the second period, the Lightning had a large advantage in puck possession. Their forechecking pressure was relentless and yielded a lot of turnovers in the New Jersey end. They themselves did a nice job of getting pucks out of their own zone and moving through center ice. They certainly played well enough to have earned two points. Perhaps that makes the shootout loss tougher to swallow, but a good performance in which a point is squandered is preferable to a poor one in which a point is stolen.
As I mentioned at the start, though, there is a flip side to the shootout loss. The Bolts had two late power play chances on which they couldn't convert. A goal on either of those opportunities would have won them the game. Instead, it went to the shootout - and the coin-toss odds that go with it. They couldn't hold leads of 2-1 and 4-3. They surrendered two power play goals and yielded chances to the Devils off the rush. Those chances may have been isolated during the final two periods, but they were extremely dangerous looks. That is an area the Lightning would like to clean up, but let's give some credit to the opposition. The Devils are playing a fast, up-tempo game and creating chances off the rush is something they've done to other teams early this season as well. Just watch highlights of their win in Toronto last week for evidence of their team speed.
But in the end, the positives from this one rule the day. It's a road point against a quality opponent in which the Lightning carried play for much of the game. And it happened on a night when the schedule was working against them.
Having written that, it's important that the Lightning finish the trip strongly (and gain more points) on Thursday against another excellent team, the 5-1-0 Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Drew Stafford's third period PPG, tying the game at four.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Goal and assist. Goals in seven straight games to begin season. Sixth player to accomplish the feat in the NHL's modern era (1943-44).
- Drew Stafford - Devils. Two goals.
- Steven Stamkos - Lightning. Goal and two assists.