TAMPA – One side came to play a full sixty minutes Thursday night.
It just happened to be the opponent as the Tampa Bay Lightning dropped a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Flames at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“Maybe we were a little high on our horse after Tuesday’s game,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “Hopefully this brings us back down to earth.”
Despite acknowledging they needed to build off of their competitive-natured game Tuesday, the Bolts failed to hold themselves accountable on the ice as an early 2-0 hole left the Lightning playing catch-up hockey that they were never destined to overcome.
“Preparation, work ethic, they have to bring that,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s a tough one to swallow tonight.”
Within a span of 15 seconds during the first period, the Flames took a two-goal lead on the Bolts.
“You don’t want to shorten the hockey game,” Cooper said. “The game had a 7:30 start, I think we started the game at 8:10.”
At the 10:20 mark of the first period, netminder Ben Bishopwent behind the net to play the puck, but ended up Mike Cammalleri stole the errant pass and scored into a wide open net. Cammalleri buried the puck unassisted.
“I just tried to pass to [J.T.] Brown and Cammalleri read it right away,” Bishop said.
Then, Bolts defenseman Mark Barberio tried to intercept a pass from Calgary, but only got a piece of it, as the puck deflected on to Kevin Westgarth’s stick, who netted the Flames’ second goal at 10:35.
“We didn’t start the game ready to play,” Stamkos said. “We can’t afford to do this right now; you can’t play like that if you want to win.”
The Lightning did their best to reverse a lackluster effort in the second. Nikita Kucherov drew a penalty on the Flames 26 seconds into the frame, but the Bolts only chipped in one shot on goal during the man advantage.
After another empty attempt on the power play, Tampa Bay went on to outshoot Calgary 6-1, including a near score byRyan Callahan after Valtteri Filppula‘s shot went through goaltender Karri Ramo‘s legs. With an open net, Callahan couldn’t control the puck from the side, and was unable to get the puck around the goal post.
The Bolts’ second power play of the game came midway through the second and produced similar results, but continued to move the Lightning in the right direction.
Finally, with 4:04 left in the period, Ondrej Palat notched his first goal since March 22 for a 2-1 game. Palat managed to control the bouncing puck around Ramo and flipped it in on his glove side for his third point in two games.
Tampa Bay continued to hold balance in their favor by the end of 40 minutes of play with 15 shots in the period alone for a 20-18 lead in the category over the Flames.
Yet the Lightning only managed to chase and come up empty in the third. Calgary’s Curtis Glencross added another goal on the power play with less than two minutes to go in regulation, after an untimely penalty from Eric Brewer. He followed the tally with another, an empty-netter, with 15.2 seconds remaining in the contest.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay plays the third game of a six-game homestand Saturday against Western Conference rival the Dallas Stars. In their last game versus the Stars, the Bolts scored a trio of goals, but the Stars fought back to within one before the Lightning solidified a 4-2 victory. Next week the Lightning begin the last week of the regular season with a tilt versus division rival the Toronto Maple Leafs, who remain in the hunt for one of two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference.