Lightning clobbered by Toronto in its race toward the NHL playoffs - SaintPetersBlog

Lightning clobbered by Toronto in its race toward the NHL playoffs

Think of the ice at Amalie Arena as a giant windshield.

Now think of the Tampa Bay Lightning as a bug.

Splat.

Got it?

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.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.
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