The best stretch of this game for the Lightning came in the final 10 minutes of the third period. Like the Panthers did on Friday at Amalie Arena, the Bolts made a strong push to tie the game after falling behind by two goals. Also similar to the Panthers on Friday, the Lightning netted one of the goals they needed, but couldn't tally the second. Their late-game surge was helped by four power play chances during that timeframe (they had five overall power play opportunities in the third period alone). On those power plays, the Lightning did a good job of holding the puck in the offensive zone and applying pressure. They posted eight dangerous shots during those final four chances and had several others that just missed the net. The one goal they scored in the third (cutting the Florida lead to 5-4) came moments after one of those power plays ended.
But the last half of the third period doesn't erase was occurred for most of the rest of the game. Outside of the first few minutes, when the Lightning built a 2-0 lead, they were completely outplayed. In Friday's game, the Panthers enjoyed much of the puck possession during the opening 40 minutes. On Saturday, that advantage was even more pronounced. Florida recorded 40 shots through the first two periods. Thanks to a dominating performance in all three zones, Panthers applied relentless pressure. The Lightning, on the other hand, hardly had the puck at all. When they got it, all they could manage were "one-and-done" entries into the offensive zone before the Panthers immediately countered.
As he did on Friday, Andrei Vasilevskiy neutralized that Florida advantage through the first two periods. He held the Panthers to just two goals during that time and, thanks to Brayden Point's second period goal off an isolated rush, the Lightning took a 3-2 lead into the third period. Despite being outshot 40-15 to that point.
But Vasilevskiy couldn't keep the Panthers quiet in the third. Florida had less overall puck possession, but made the most of it during a 2:28 span. The Panthers netted three goals, all off the rush, to grab the 5-3 lead. Only when they fell behind by those two goals did the Lightning begin dictating play consistently. As mentioned earlier, they couldn't complete their rally and send the game to overtime.
There have been some extremely rough patches through the first two games from the Lightning. Some of that can be attributed to strong play from Florida. But the Lightning also have contributed to that narrative with poor execution. As a result, there hasn't been enough puck possession for the Lightning. When they have executed well, they've been able to create chances and score goals (nine in two games, to be exact). But they simply need to dictate play more frequently. It'll be especially crucial on Monday against the Washington Capitals, who have received seven goals from Alex Ovechkin in winning their first two games.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Colton Sceviour's tying goal in the third period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Vincent Trocheck - Panthers. GWG.
- Evgenii Dadonov - Panthers. Goal and assist.
- Nick Bjugstad - Panthers. Goal and assist.