1. Lightning

Lightning falls at home to Coyotes (w/video)

Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, left, and Victor Hedman are stunned as Alex Goligoski smiles.
Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, left, and Victor Hedman are stunned as Alex Goligoski smiles.
Published Mar. 22, 2017

TAMPA — The schedule makers did the Lightning a favor Tuesday by dropping a home game against one of the worst teams in the league during the last stretch of a playoff chase.

Not only that, but the Coyotes were playing their third game in four nights, including the second of a back-to-back that included Monday's game at Nashville. And, they played their backup goalie.

What more could the Lightning ask for as it tries to gain ground on idle Toronto for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference?

How about a win?

Didn't happen.

The Lightning allowed three third-period goals for a 5-3 loss in a game it desperately needed to win.

"I just don't know what happened in the third," Victor Hedman said.

Here's what happened: The Coyotes, outscored 80-49 in the third period this season coming in, rallied from a 3-2 deficit, icing the game with a shorthanded goal by Connor Murray that bounced off Hedman's glove, skipped up ice and into the open net.

The Lightning was on its second power play in the final six minutes. It didn't get one shot on net.

Another frustrating loss in a frustrating season.

Perhaps the most frustrating?

"This ranks up there, though with how important the game was to us, a 3-2 lead at home going into the third in a must-win game for us," coach Jon Cooper said. "To give it up like we did, it's … yeah … it's frustrating to say the least."

The Coyotes took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but the Lightning had an answer for each.

Nikita Kucherov tied it at 2 midway through the second period and Vladislav Namestnikov put the Lightning ahead at 18:08 in the same period with the goal that was deflected in by Arizona's Anthony Duclair.

At that point it looked as if the Lightning finally shook off the pesky Coyotes and was going to return to the form that generated its run up the standings.

Instead, it lost its third straight game — all at home.

Cooper pointed to one telling stat: The Coyotes held a 25-6 advantage in shots blocked.

"That shows you the mentality of what went on out there," Cooper said.

He said his team got caught up in worrying too much about scoring than protecting its own net. That was a problem during much of the season but disappeared during the 12-2-3 run.

But Tuesday's loss was the third straight game in which the Lightning allowed five goals, though two of those 15 were empty-netters.

The Lightning still remains four games out of the wild card. It does play Boston twice, beginning Thursday, and the Leafs during the final road trip.

"It's back to the drawing board," Hedman said. "Just remember there's still a lot of games left. We obviously are disappointed in the result (Tuesday). We can't lay down. We can't fold. We just have to refocus."

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But only 10 games remain in the season.

"We're running out of real estate," Cooper said. "That's the issue."


First Period—1, Arizona, Fischer 3 (Jooris, Crouse), 4:56. 2, Tampa Bay, Hedman 15 (Kucherov), 9:45.

Second Period—3, Arizona, Dvorak 12 (Murphy, Domi), 10:06. 4, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 34 (Palat), 11:50. 5, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 10 (Drouin), 18:08.

Third Period—6, Arizona, Ekman-larsson 12 (Domi, Duclair), 4:54. 7, Arizona, Vrbata 18 (Goligoski, Ekman-larsson), 6:39. 8, Arizona, Murphy 2, 18:24 (sh).

Shots on Goal—Arizona 14-13-8—35. Tampa Bay 14-12-13—39.

Power-play opportunities—Arizona 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 4.

Goalies—Arizona, Domingue 9-14-1 (39 shots-36 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 17-16-6 (34-30).

A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:32. Referees—Tom Chmielewski, Jean Hebert. Linesmen—Darren Gibbs, Pierre Racicot.


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