Steven Stamkos was stripped of the puck by Eric Staal mere seconds into things, and Carolina wasted no time making him pay. He wasn’t the only culprit though, as goaltender Anders Lindback was shaky to start and the defense couldn’t be found for 20 minutes. This marked Tampa Bay’s eighth defeat in nine games.
Last night was both perplexing and frustrating to watch since the Lightning again fell behind early before trying to rally. Then there’s the offensive talent. How does a team with two of the NHL‘s top three point producers in Stamkos and Martin St. Louis still manage to lose more games than they win? Beats me, but if it’s a confidence thing scoring first might help.
The Lightning played one of their worst first periods, falling behind 3-0 to a team playing on back-to-back nights. They did fight back, though, it wasn’t enough this time. Of course, Dana Tyrell mishandling the puck going from forehand to backhand and Richard Panik pulling an “I want to make Sportscenter’s top plays” spin-o-rama that only Stamkos has completed successfully didn’t help.
With a postseason spot completely gone, the Lightning can turn their attention to helping Stamkos and St. Louis try and win individual awards. At 55 and 54 points respectively, both are within striking distance of Sidney Crosby for the Art Ross. Stamkos also sits only two goals behind Alexander Ovechkin in the Rocket Richard race.
Either way, the Lightning continue this homestand Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Game time is 7 p.m. With two leaders vying for individual league honors and fans craving some wins, Tampa Bay has plenty to play for.