After a while, it isn’t just a slump.
After a while, it’s a new reality.
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to .500 on the season, losing their fourth straight game of the season. This time, it was a 6-2 beating at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It lowered the Bolts’ record to 19-19-4 on the season.
The Lightning has now given up three or more goals in 16 of their last 21 games.
“We played a really good team that’s had quite a long break to get the bodies healthy, and we’re a tired group,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “When you’re tired, you’re bound to make a couple of mistakes. We did what we wanted to do, we got the lead, and unfortunately, we broke down on the first one and then the self-inflicted wounds started. We make a major error on the second one, turn it over, and against a good team, that’s going to end up in the back of the net. But, ultimately, it was still 2-1 going into the third. They pushed, and we just couldn’t push back. We were tired at the end.”
Weariness doesn’t answer all of the Bolts’ problems as of late, however. The defense has played poorly, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has three six-goal games in the last four.
Jonathan Drouin and Vlad Namestnikov scored for the Lightning.
“You’ve just got to get back to work,” Cooper said. “It’s 82 games, not four. But we’ve got to have a little renewed interest in our D zone because it doesn’t matter, you can sit here and say, ‘Well, we can score four or five a night,’ you’re still going to lose when you give up six. But, the guys have played a lot of hockey here in a short amount of time, and they tried to game this one out. It was our mistakes that led to their goals, and they capitalized on every one of them.
“I can look back on those goals and three-quarters of them, we just handed to them on a platter. You can’t do that. Ultimately, we didn’t penetrate enough. They got to the scoring areas to score, and we didn’t. We were still a little bit perimeter at times, and we can’t be. It cost us.”
The Lightning is home Thursday night against Buffalo and Friday against Columbus.