Think of the ice at Amalie Arena as a giant windshield.
Now think of the Tampa Bay Lightning as a bug.
The Lightning, playing so well as of late, were clobbered at home in Thursday night’s game, losing 5-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bolts, who had just passed the Leafs in the standings, now are playing chance once again.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it was his team’s defense, which had been good lately, that led to the defeat.
“The thing that was missing was the defending of shots,” said Cooper. “That’s the thing we weren’t doing. There is a spot 10 feet out, this little 10×10 area in front of our net. That was the only area of the ice we didn’t play. Clearly, that’s the most important part (on the ice.) We’ve been so good defending as of late. That’s why we’ve had success, and tonight, we didn’t (defend.) It looks bad on (goalie Andrei) Vasilevskiy, but there’s not much you can do when guys are tapping them in and winning battles.”
Vasilevskiy, who was 6-0-1 in his previous seven games, was pulled after giving up his fourth goal on 15 shots in the second period. Cooper said, however, the problem was the defense. “It was a rest pull more than anything,” he said.
It was only the third time all season the Bolts had lost by five goals and it’s first since a Jan. 5 loss to Columbus.
Twelve games remain for Tampa Bay. If the team is going to salvage this season, it needs to take advantage of Saturday night’s home game against Washington.