Here are some of the reasons why the Lightning lost this game – and saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end.
The Lightning had three early power play chances in the game – and despite recording six shots during those man advantages, couldn’t tally a goal on any of them. An early lead might have changed the game’s narrative. Instead, the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
The second period was a rough one for the Bolts, as they allowed four goals and were outshot, 19-5. Give the Panthers credit for dictating play, but on closer examination, the period wasn’t quite as lopsided as the stats might indicate. In the early minutes of the frame, the Lightning had several great looks to score, but their shots missed the net. That pressure isn’t reflected in any shots or goals. During that time, however, the Lightning did struggle with their rush coverage and the Panthers generated a number of terrific chances off the rush – Logan Shaw (breakaway), Quinton Howden (rebound), Jussi Jokinen (shot off centering pass) and Jonathan Huberdeau (breakaway) all had point-blank attempts that Ben Bishop stopped. Seconds after the Huberdeau breakaway, Bishop made two more saves on Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov. But the Panthers kept up the pressure and Huberdeau eventually scored off a high shot from the slot.
After the Huberdeau goal, the Panthers applied consistent pressure for much of the rest of the period. That pressure led to three puck-luck goals. Huberdeau set up Nick Bjugstad for a tap-in after Braydon Coburn’s clearing attempt hit off Victor Hedman’s leg. Reilly Smith’s centering feed deflected in off Hedman’s skate. And Vincent Trocheck swatted a backhand shot from the slot that deflected off Matt Carle’s stick, fluttered into the air, eluded Bishop’s glove and dropped into the Lightning net.
Even though the Panthers took a 4-0 lead into the third, they needed Roberto Luongo to be at his best in the final 20 minutes. The Bolts fired a season-high 22 shots on net in the third. They scored twice, but could have had more. Luongo made a handful of remarkable saves, denying numerous Grade-A scoring chances. Give the Lightning credit for battling as hard as they did in the third while facing a big deficit. They also did well to manage a six-on-five attack with the goalie pulled for nearly six minutes before eventually allowing an empty-netter. But they couldn’t pull off the comeback.
So this loss was a result of missed opportunities on early power play chances, porous second period defense, bad puck luck and an opposition goalie on top of his game when the Lightning surged in the third. The Bolts will look to get back in the win column when they host Toronto on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star Break.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Huberdeau’s goal, which gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Jonathan Huberdeau – Panthers. Goal and assist.
2.Roberto Luongo – Panthers. 38 saves.
3.Nick Bjugstad – Panthers. Goal and assist.