In a frustrating, Groundhog Day-like contest, the Lightning outplayed their opponent, but came away empty-handed. Once again, the loss stemmed from a tough combination of facing a hot goalie and enduring bad puck-luck. The result was the third Lightning shutout defeat of the season and all three essentially have been one-goal games (the St. Louis contest ended 2-0 because of an empty-netter).
In this game, Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stole the show – and stole two points for his team. He was outstanding in making 31 saves. His best work came in the first and third periods, when he made 24 of those stops. His work in the first, a period in which the Lightning decisively controlled play and outshot the Wild, 13-7, kept the game scoreless. His performance in the third period helped Minnesota protect the one-goal lead.
Scoring chances for the Lightning were plentiful. They did a good job of getting pucks to the net. They won lots of puck battles in the offensive zone, which created long shifts of sustained pressure. Credit Minnesota for boxing out well after Dubnyk made initial saves – and the Lightning didn’t get many clean rebound opportunities. But Dubnyk did most of the work in keeping the Lightning scoreless.
One shot did beat him – a J.T. Brown wrister from the left circle when the Lightning had a three-on-one. But Brown’s shot rang off the inside part of the post and ricocheted out. That chance came minutes after Jared Spurgeon had given the Wild the lead when his right point shot beat a screened Ben Bishop.
You have to feel for Bishop, who has allowed a total of eight goals in his last five starts, all losses. As has been the case recently, he played well enough to win, but didn’t.
Eventually, one has to figure that the law of averages will even out for the Lightning. They are playing well enough to get points out of many of these games that they are losing in regulation. If they maintain that level of play, the wins should follow.
Also, the brutal part of the Lightning’s early-season schedule is now over. The Bolts had to play 11 of their first 16 games on the road. They’re through that stretch now, having gone 7-7-2. The Lightning will play six of their next seven at home, where they will look to go on a positive run.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Dubnyk’s saves throughout the game.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Devan Dubnyk – Wild. 31-save shutout.
2.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. Was second-best player on the ice – after Dubnyk.
3.Charlie Coyle – Wild. Assist. Strong all-around game.