Winning the games that you are supposed to is a big part of making the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t do that on Tuesday night. The Bolts entered the 3rd period with a 3-2 lead on the Arizona Coyotes, but allowed 2 goals in a less than 2 minute span early in the period. That would ultimately doom the Bolts as their playoff hopes continued to dwindle with the 5-3 loss.
The Lightning nearly opened up the scoring just over a minute into the game, but Alex Killorn couldn’t get it in the net after a spectacular cross-ice pass. Right after that chance the Bolts had to shift their focus to defense after Luke Witkowski picked up an early penalty for cross checking. The Tampa Bay PK did their job though and kept Arizona off the board. The Coyotes were able to get an early lead minutes after when Christian Fischer took advantage of Andrei Vasilevskiy misplaying a puck off of the boards. The Lightning had a power play of their own end prematurely when Alex Killorn was called for holding, but almost immediately after Victor Hedman lit the lamp off of a breakaway to tie the game at 1. Both teams had their fair share of chances in the 2nd half of the period, but both goalies did their jobs to keep it at a goal a piece after 1.
The Bolts got the 1st 4 shots on goal in the period, but the momentum changed less than 5 minutes in. Jake Dotchin was sent to the box for slashing and Arizona got an early power play opportunity for the 2nd straight period. But, the Lightning penalty kill was up to the task again to keep the game tied. The tie game was no more right near the halfway mark of the period. Christian Dvorak snuck the puck past Vasilevskiy to put Arizona back in front. The Coyotes’ lead wouldn’t last long though. Nikita Kucherov’s 34th goal of the season drew the Bolts back even less than 2 minutes later. With less than 2 minutes left in the period the Bolts took the lead off of a Vlad Namestnikov goal that looked like it might have went off of the post, but the refs called it a good goal.
The post decided it would be kind to Arizona early in the final period. Oliver Ekman-Larsson fired 1 that hit the crossbar, but ended up crossing the line to tie the game up with more than 15 minutes to go. The Coyotes continued to steal the momentum back moments later when Radim Vrbata’s 18th goal of the season put them back in the lead. The Lightning got a golden opportunity to tie it back up with a power play right at the 14 minute mark of the frame. Tampa Bay didn’t manage a single shot on goal during that power play, but got another shot at it with less than 3 minutes to play. Their was a goal on that power play, but not for the good guys. Hedman botched blocking a puck with his glove after Vasilevskiy had headed to the bench and that 5th Coyote goal would ice the outcome.
The Bolts will have Wednesday off before heading out on the road Thursday. Tampa Bay will face the Boston Bruins in a vital battle for playoff positioning in the Atlantic Division. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 pm with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes prior on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. Arizona - Fischer - (Crouse, Jooris) - 4:56
2. Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Kucherov) - 9:45
1. Arizona - Dvorak - (Domi, Murphy) - 10:06
2. Tampa Bay - Kucherov - (Palat) - 11:50
3. Tampa Bay - Namestnikov - (Drouin) - 18:08
1. Arizona - Ekman-Larsson - (Domi, Duclair) - 4:54
2. Arizona - Vrbata - (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson) - 6:39
3. Arizona - SHG - Murphy - (Unassisted) - 18:24
1. Tampa Bay - Witkowski - (Cross Checking) - 2:07
2. Arizona - Perlini - (Interference) - 7:52
3. Tampa Bay - Killorn - (Holding) - 9:21
4. Arizona - Goligoski - (Slashing) - 9:45
1. Tampa Bay - Dotchin - (Slashing) - 4:41
1. Arizona - Martinook - (Roughing) - 5:53
2. Tampa Bay - Dotchin - (Roughing) - 5:53
3. Arizona - Schenn - (Tripping) - 14:07
4. Arizona - Martinook - (Tripping) - 17:19
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 39Arizona - 35