Tyler Johnson and J.P. Cote each committed what turned out to be a costly mistake in the third period, but they weren’t the only culprits. Six minors were called against the Lightning this game, and while some didn’t appear worthy it halted any momentum. As a result, the team became frustrated and began losing composure, which led to lapses in judgment.
Of course, it doesn’t help when the normally reliable penalty kill is experiencing problems. Since Jan 5, the team has allowed opponents a total of eight power play goals. Even more worrisome, they’ve given up at least two in three of those last five games.
Meanwhile, the Lightning’s man-advantage has been plagued by inconsistency for quite awhile. Eight power play tallies dating back to Dec. 10, no more than one per game, isn’t something to write home about. To be completely honest, it’s downright putrid. And while the long absence of scoring threat Steven Stamkos doesn’t help, they’ve shown the ability to score when the puck’s fired on net. Which leads me to question why passing seems to be their modus operandi not only this season but in the past.
For Lightning fans, this loss is maddening. Enough to make you want to pull your hair out. Why won’t they shoot the puck and create traffic on the power play? What’s the deal with the penalty kill? Is there any reason behind committing a number of mental errors? No matter the question, there seems to be few acceptable answers, somewhat evidenced by the team’s mediocre 4-4-1 record post-Christmas break.
Can the Lightning turn things around, thus ensuring a postseason berth, or is this the start of what could be a long two months? Unknown as it may be, the discipline factor will play a large role in Tampa Bay’s success or failure going forward.