The Tampa Bay Lightning appears to be moving in the wrong direction.
The Lightning lost their fourth straight game Thursday night, 5-4 to St. Louis, despite a late comeback. In their last four games, the Bolts have given up 19 goals in their toughest skid of the season.
In their latest defeat, the Lightning fell behind 4-1 (three of the goals coming on power plays), before comebacks narrowed the margin to one goal twice. Ben Bishop stopped nine of 10 goals after relieving Andrei Vasilevskiy, but by then the damage was done. Three of the Blues’ early goals came on power plays.
“They had 10 minutes of power-play time,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “We had 10 seconds. Now you’re sucking a lot of momentum because you’re killing so many penalties, and eventually that cost us.”
For the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko had a hat trick. Kevin Shattenkirk had the other two goals. Cedric Paquette scored twice for the Bolts, while Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson scored once each.
Cooper said the team is making progress.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Cooper said. “We had possession time. We had zone time. We had chances. A couple of times, we got run around in our own zone, but that’s going to happen to everybody. For the most part, 5-on-5 aspect of the game I was really happy with. Ultimately, it came down to special teams, and we weren’t good enough tonight on the PK.”
Cooper chose to be pleased at his team’s strong finish.
“Was it 4-1 at one point?” Cooper said. “And we just kept going. The guys felt this was a winnable hockey game for us. You can’t sit there and play the game not trying to make a mistake. You’ve got to play the game with passion and be aggressive and throw the chips out there and see where they land. We did that. Like I said, when you’re killing that many penalties, and some were our own doing. We threw two over the glass. Did we have to? No, but we did. And miscommunication on the too many men when a guy was coming off and then he didn’t come off. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, but we’ve got to get out of those and we didn’t.
“It’s tough. I thought we should have had the fourth goal earlier. Nesterov had an opening in the slot and threw it wide, and then we give it up seconds later to make it 5-3. We had a chance to tie it on a penalty kill. Vermin gets really good wood on it, has the goalie beat and just throws it over the net. That’s just how it’s going for us right now. But, I thought we played well enough to get points, and that’s kind of how you come out of these things. Sometimes you don’t get the points, and maybe next game we will.”
The Lightning returns home Saturday night to face the Washington Capitols.