Lightning Playoff Hopes Dwindling As Season Grows Shorter, Fall To Capitals

Lightning Lack Firepower To Keep Up With Capitals

T.J. Oshie recorded his third career hat trick and Justin Williams and John Carlson also scored as the Washington Capitals handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their second straight home loss 5-3. Braden Holtby made saves 26 saves improving his lifetime mark against the Bolts to 9-2-2.

With the win the Capitals pick up their third consecutive 100 point on the season (46-17-8) and clinch a playoff berth. They have earned a point against the Bolts in eight consecutive games (7-0-1) and 14 of their last 15 games (12-1-2).  They have earned a point in six of their last seven on Tampa’s home ice (4-1-1-).  The win improves their mark against Atlantic Division opponents to 16-3-2 on the year.

Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn scored 16-seconds apart to bring a first period 2-0 deficit back to even. With the loss the Lightning fall to 34-28-9 and remain at 77-points and outside of the playoff picture.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has lost his last two starts but is 6-2-1 over his past nine starts overall.

The Lightning once again played without there three centers, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Cedric Paquette. It would be great to get any of the trio back along with Captain Steven Stamkos.

Cooper Quote To Note:

“We’re looking forward to the carnival tomorrow and interacting with the fans, but then it’s get back to work time. It does take the mind off hockey for a little bit here. We talk about the physical drains of playing a full NHL season. No secret how banged up we are, but I don’t think anybody can talk about the mental strains, especially when we’re thin. We’re depending on guys, game in and out, to perform with us. It’s mentally draining and they’ve been doing a heck of a job. We’ll get a couple day break here, much needed.”

Lightning Playoff Odds:

According the the web-site sportsclubstats.com the Lightning entered Saturday night’s action with a 27.3-percent chance of making the playoffs. With their loss and the overtime losses by the Toronto Blue Jackets and New York Islanders the Lightning will fall to approximately 20.6-percent. Here are the key games from Saturday night’s action:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 Lost  To Washington Capitals (-7.6-percent)
  • New York Islanders 3-2 Overtime Loss To Columbus Blue Jackets (+0.2-percent)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Overtime Loss To Chicago Blackhawks (+0.7-percent)

Entering tonight’s game against the Capitals, thehockeynews.com gave the Lightning a 32-percent chance at the postseason. The Leafs at 58-percent and the Islanders at 20-percent. The web site MoneyPucks.com gives the Lightning a 22-percent shot while the Leafs are at 65.05-percent and the Islanders at 21.27-percent.

Upcoming Games Of Note:

The Lightning, Leafs, and Islanders are all idle on Sunday.  The Bolts return to action on Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes.

On Monday night the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins while the New York Islanders are idle until Wednesday night when they play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Lightning Notes:

Tampa Bay Lightning
AP Photo: Chris O’Meara
  • Nikita Kucherov scored the Lightning’s first goal of the game. It was his 100th career NHL goal. He is now tied for first in the NHL with Brayden Schenn  and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers with 15 power play goals. He later added a third period goal.
  • Ondrej Palat picked up an assist on Killorn’s goal. He had his four game point streak end against the Toronto Maple Leafs but has a goal and four assists over his last six games.
  • Alex Killorn scored the Bolts second goal. The goal came just 16-seconds after Kucherov’s and it tied the game at 2-2.  It was his 17th goal on the season equaling a career high (2013-2014). It also ended a 16 game scoreless streak which dates back to February 4th against the Anaheim Ducks.
  • The Bolts lost back-to-back games since January 31 and February 2, when falling to last place in the Eastern Conference.

Lightning Reaction:

Capital’s Notes:

  • Nicklas Backstrom picked up a quartet of assists giving him 52 points (10-goals/42-assists) in 44 career games against the Lightning. He has 24 points (5-goals/15-assists) in his last 15 against the Bolts picking up points in 13-of-15 games.
  • T.J. Oshie picked up his third career hat trick.
  • The Capitals improved to 32-4-3 in games in which they had one days rest.
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I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.