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Lightning a bit flat, Johnson continues to struggle

Wayne Masut | Sr. Staff Photographer

The Tampa Bay Lightning took the ice for the first of four straight road games on Friday night. The Washington Capitals’ relentless attack secured a 3-1 victory for the home team.

Hockey is a team sport. Which is almost unfortunate for the Lightning after falling to the Capitals on Friday night. If you were to look at the play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy alone, you’d think the Bolts would have been in a position to beat the boys from DC. However, the Capitals were in control of this game and the Lightning continue to struggle with consistency.

Vasilevskiy keeps his team in it

Tampa Bay’s goalie stopped 35 shots on the night, however, the Caps generated 37. On most nights that is going to get your team a victory. And when your opponent, Philipp Grubauer, has yet to record a win in 2017 your chances are even greater.

Vasilevskiy was so strong in net, he earned 2nd Star honors. The unfortunate part of that equation is that it was Grubauer that took home the honor as the games Number One Star.

Braden Holtby, the Capitals’ regular starter, is one of the best goalies in the NHL. Not only is he good – he’s durable and dependable. Last season, Grubauer only appeared in 24 games. Holtby, on the other hand, led the NHL in starts en-route to taking home the Vezina Trophy.

The backup did everything he could to secure his first win of the season. He wasn’t forced into many difficult chances early on, however, the Lightning showed signs of aggression in small spurts.

Including another short-handed opportunity for Tyler Johnson.

Thirty shots on goal through two periods is a fairly safe recipe for success. Plus, when you’re having as much success as the opposition is, passing around Lightning defenders, goals are usually not far behind.

Tic-Tac-Toe

Much like the Blackhawks did on Wednesday night, the Capitals showed off some impressive passing skills against the Lightning.

 

Confidence while Johnson continues to struggle

Even after a loss like this, the Lightning should feel pretty good about themselves. Sure they’ve lost 2-out-of-3, but you could not expect them to carry on the pace they were headed. After all, they were trending north of 120 points on the season. Since the 1976-77 season (Canadiens – 132pts), only five teams have eclipsed that plateau. Most recently, the Capitals reached 120 during the 2015-16 campaign.

One player that has seen his share of struggles recently? Johnson has not scored a goal since October 24. After scoring four goals through the teams’ first 10 games, the $5MM-man has dropped a goose egg over his last 12 contests.

“I think our team has a lot of [confidence], we know we can play with any team,” Johnson said during Friday night’s loss.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Philipp Grubauer (25 saves)

2nd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy (35 saves)

3rd Star: Jay Beagle (1G, 1A)


 

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