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In a performance that was much too similar to the loss in Florida, the Lightning dropped a 4-1 decision in Boston last night. Once again Tampa Bay badly outshot its opponent, and once again the Lightning controlled most of the game after a slow start. Once again, though, weird bounces ended up in the Lightning net while the Bolts couldn’t catch a break or make the most of their many chances.
Just like last Saturday night in Sunrise, the Lightning peppered the opposing goaltender for most of the night and controlled most of the play (outshooting Boston 15-3 in the second period), only to get victimized on the counter-attack. You had to wonder if it was going to be one of those nights when less than four minutes in a shot from the point by Andrew Ference that was headed wide hit Peter Schaefer – who was trying to jump out of the way – in the knee and floated perfectly between the legs of Johan Holmqvist. The Lightning caught a similar break on the Brad Richards goal, but ultimately didn’t make the most of their 36-23 shot advantage.
One area John Tortorella had to be pleased with was the discipline, as Boston didn’t receive a power-play opportunity. Strangely though, the Lightning had six skaters on the ice for about 20 seconds in the first period yet nobody among the four officials on the ice and the players and coaches on the Boston bench seemed to notice. Jason Ward calmly skated to the Lightning bench as if on a line change to end the impromptu power play without raising suspicions.
You could tell it was going to be an entertaining night for the crowd during warm-ups when Boston’s Shawn Thornton tried to stare down Andre Roy. Sure enough, they tangled near the end of the first period after Nick Tarnasky and Milan Lucic had already hooked up for an earlier bout.
Tortorella said after the game that he felt the team worked hard and battled well along the walls, but ultimately it needs to take better advantage of its opportunities in tight games. Tortorella also did some line juggling during the game – moving Michel Ouellet to the third line with Chris Gratton and Mathieu Darche while Jason Ward moved up with Brad Richards and Jan Hlavac – and said he was pleased with how the change worked out. Tortorella said Ouellet seemed more comfortable after the switch and he intends to continue the experiment Saturday night.
The Lightning got a day off after landing in Tampa after 2 a.m. this morning. The team will skate tomorrow morning before facing the Thrashers – who thankfully got their first win out of the way last night – at 7:30 p.m. at the Forum.