Although Mathieu Garon was stellar in net once again, saving 19 of 21 shots, Ryan Miller made many magnificent stops to literally steal his team a win. That’s no lie; as the Lightning peppered him with 31 shots, and 14 of those were prime, top-notch chances which should have been buried. At the least, he left Lightning fans pondering what the heck happened to their once-dominant team.
The Lightning opened the scoring about a minute and a half in, with Steven Stamkos burying his league-leading 14th goal. They received numerous other prime opportunities as well, namely during a second period which featured tons of power plays including one 5-on-3, but those shots produced absolutely nothing.
Tampa Bay did miss defenseman Sami Salo due to injury for the game’s second half though, something that likely didn’t help given the fact his plus-11 rating leads the team. Buffalo also scored the game-winner early in the third period. He’s scheduled to be evaluated further tomorrow.
There was some good news however, with the team playing a nearly penalty-free game. Not bad considering how we began this shortened season.
Thomas Vanek continued torturing the Lightning, assisting on both of his team’s goals, one each by Tyler Myers and Cody Hodgson. Now, imagine him continuing this while playing in Tampa Bay’s division (as was recently proposed), and things could get very interesting to say the least.
Now the Lightning set out on a crucial road trip, one that could potentially make or break their season, against the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils in that order. The Lightning’s next opponent, the Rangers, have been struggling lately but already has two wins over us. Of course, that might have something to do with Rangers coach John Tortorella‘s familiarity with a couple Tampa Bay players.
Regardless, the Lightning players need to forget about tonight’s frustration in order to have a chance at winning, something that must be done if they wish to make a run at the postseason.