Quick question: If a team is going to be embarrassed by the second-worst team in the NHL, what does it say?
Other than, for a night, that the Tampa Bay Lightning was among the worst.
The Lightning blew every advantage Tuesday night. They were playing the second-worst team in the league, the Arizona Coyotes. They were at home. They held a lead in the third period. They were playing with playoffs in mind.
And still, they lost a 5-3 game to Arizona, an embarrassing game that might help keep them from the post-season.
The Bolts gave up five goals for the third straight game, and they lost again.
“You have to keep the puck out of your net if you’re going to win,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “In our last two games, we’ve scored three. In the past, when we’ve made a commitment to play defense, we’ve won those games. If you’re not going to defend, you’re not going to win.”
Cooper offered up an interesting statistic. Arizona blocked 25 shots on Tuesday night; the Bolts blocked only six.
Still, the Bolts had a chance to win. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Vlad Namestnikov scored to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead. Still, Arizona came back to win.
The Lightning, impossibly, is still only four points out of a playoff spot. But as Cooper said, “We’re running out of real estate.”
Tampa Bay now goes on the road, facing Boston and Detroit.