The Tampa Bay Lightning (21-21-5) touched ground in Glendale to face the Arizona Coyotes (13-26-6) on Saturday night. In the thick of a six-game road trip, the Bolts had secured three out of six points and were desperate for more. Were they able to fell the Coyotes and claim two big points? Let’s recap tonight’s action and see what happened!
First Period: The Lightning had started their last three games with a bit of fire in their hearts, but for some reason it would be absent here. They were given a prime opportunity as Arizona’s Jamie McGinn would be called for hooking at 1:36, but could not convert. Tampa Bay seemed unbalanced in the early stages and it quickly bit them in the foot. On a Coyote rush into the Lightning zone, Coyote forward Tobias Rieder tossed a shot on Ben Bishop that which somehow squeaked under his arm and put Arizona up 1-0 with 11:55 left in the period. That would not be the extent of the damage as the Coyotes’ Radim Vrbata then found pay dirt in a very similar fashion mere minutes later to raise Arizona’s lead to two. The Lightning would find a spark, however, with the help of the dubbed “French Connection” line. Tampa Bay forward Cedric Paquette chipped in a Gabriel Dumont rebound and put an exclamation mark on his line’s stellar defensive zone work. Time expired and the Lightning went to the locker room only down by one.
Second Period: The second period would be the stuff of nightmares for the Lightning. Down just 2-1 to start the second, the Bolts came out searching for the game-tying goal. The wheels on the cart however were not properly greased and after failing to scoring on a four-minute power play, everything fell apart for Tampa Bay. Two penalties led to a 57 second five on three opportunity for Arizona and they were able to capitalize with a Michael Stone tally to take the game 3-1. That would not be the end of it, however, as Arizona found the back of the net two more times thanks to forwards Christian Fischer and Martin Hanzal, who each scored within the last five minutes of the period. In the blink of an eye, the Lightning were trailing the Coyotes 5-1.
Third Period: Coach Jon Cooper pulled Bishop in favor of young goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to start the third and also changed up his lines with the hope to wake up the sluggish Lightning. Tampa Bay responded with their best twenty minutes of the game and played with intensity absent from the previous periods. These efforts would get rewarded with goals from Vlad Namestnikov and Ondrej Palat which brought them within two. Unfortunately, the mountain would be too tall to climb, and the Bolts eventually fell to the Coyotes 5-3.
Three Stars of The Game:
- Radim Vrbata, 1 goal and 3 assists
- Tobias Rieder, 1 goal and 2 assists
- Martin Hanzal, 1 goal and 2 assists
Next up: Tampa Bay Lightning (21-22-5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (29-14-5) on Tuesday night at 8:30pm at the United Center in Chicago.