Lightning’s streak ends, time to ‘move on and start another one’

What does the end of Tampa Bay's point streak mean? Not a lot.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) reacts as San Jose Sharks players celebrate a goal by center Joe Pavelski during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. [AP Photo/Jeff Chiu]
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) reacts as San Jose Sharks players celebrate a goal by center Joe Pavelski during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. [AP Photo/Jeff Chiu]
Published January 6

SAN JOSE—The streak is over. The Lightning's 16-game point streak ended in San Jose on Saturday. Make that streaks; Nikita Kucherov's point streak ended at 12 games as well.

However, Kucherov (as well as the team) will likely do what he did when the last 10-game point streak ended: Pick up and start another one.

It was not a great game, but the team didn't view the loss as a harbinger of doom, just one game.

"Obviously, over the course of the season, you're going to lose games," forward Tyler Johnson said after the 5-2 loss. "We've been playing extremely well and we've had some good luck on our side in some situations. Now it's just time to learn from this, move on and start another one."

The Sharks did a good job of limiting this potent offense's opportunities. They blocked shots and clogged the passing lanes.

The Lightning came into the game with a 30-percent success rate on the power play, so San Jose only took two penalties. That was one major difference defenseman Ryan McDonagh pointed to between this loss and previous comebacks.

Tampa Bay got tired as the game went on, while San Jose got stronger. On Friday, defenseman Victor Hedman said the Lightning started feeling the impact of the time change. The trip was only three games, and there was at least one day between each game without much travel, but the three-hour time difference had an effect. The Lightning quelled the jet lag during the first two games. But the team looked fatigue in this road-trip finale, which started at 11 p.m. Eastern.

This, however, was not like the Oct. 27 Arizona game, a 7-1 loss that can be chalked up to a tired team at the end of a long, hard trip and pretty much thrown out. As Johnson said, there are things to learn from this game.

For one, that the Lightning hasn't entirely figured out its defensive issues. After allowing three goals in two games to low-scoring teams, Tampa Bay was lit up again. This was the fifth time in the last nine games the Lightning has allowed four or more goals.

"Give credit to San Jose, they did a great job getting shots through on our goalie," Johnson said. "Us forwards and defensemen, I think we can box out a little better, try to block shots and limit those opportunities defensively."

He also said they could have done a better job of getting into the dirty areas and looking for rebounds. The Lightning hasn't had to work too hard for goals. It's high-scorers have created the pretty goals. Tampa Bay found some chances and hit the post a few times. Those attempts could have made for a different game, but they didn't.

No one on the Lightning was happy after this loss, but they weren't heart-broken either. This streak wasn't Tampa Bay's one chance. It was part of a great season.

"In the grand scheme of things, did we think we were going to win every game the rest of the way, probably not," McDonagh said. "We like where our team is headed for sure, we've proven that against some good teams, we can find ways to win. It didn't happen here tonight, but we should feel confident going forward."

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