In the end, the effort was there for the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night against the New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, so were the mistakes.
The Lightning, losers of 7 of their last 8 games, fell short of tying the game late, and lost to the New Jersey Devils 5-4. It was a game that was marred once again by a slow start for the Lightning, as they fell behind 2-0 early in the first period, and were mostly dominated. At one point the shot total even reflected that, with the home team at a 10-2 disadvantage.The Lightning did manage to get back in the game in the first though, getting goals from Steve Downie and a particularly nice goal from Blair Jones to tie the game at two.
In the end it would not be enough however, as the Lightning’s power play once again struggled to get a goal at a key time in the game, including having multiple consecutive power play opportunities in the second period. The Lightning power play finished the night going one for five.
Steven Stamkos did his best to pull the Lightning back into the game almost by himself late in the third period with two goals late in the period, but it would not be enough in the end.
“We’re finding ways to lose games right now,” Stamkos said. “I mean, you cant start that way and then expect to win a game. We showed a lot of character like we always do, always never quit and come back. The second period killed us. Again, we never quit, but we dug ourselves a hole and it was too big to climb out of.”
For the Lightning, they are somewhat at a crossroads now it seems, as they need to find away to turn this streak around quickly before the season gets away from them. To be fair, it wasn’t all bad, the Lightning did out shoot New Jersey 36-22, and at times outplayed them, but the issue this team had once again was with consistency. They improve in one area and the next game, they regress in another area. And they will continue to struggle until they find that consistency.
“It’s tough mentally on the players,” head coach Guy Boucher said. “I am not going to point any fingers here; it’s a team sport and there are moments in a franchise, moments in a season, in segments of a season that you don’t understand why; its just happening this way and you have to manage it mentally. It matters how you react to it and react the right way or else you sink lower.”