1. Lightning

Lightning point streak ends with loss to Flames (w/ video)

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman (6) defends against Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) during the first period of Thursday???‚??„?s (2/23/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Published Feb. 24, 2017

TAMPA — The decision to start Andrei Vasilevskiy over red-hot Ben Bishop in goal Thursday night will understandably be questioned and debated in Lightning land.

Bishop had won five straight. Vasilevskiy had won once in 2017.

But like several of Vasilevskiy's latest defeats, you can't blame him for a 3-2 buzzkill loss to the Flames in front of a subdued sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay, riding a season-long seven-game points streak, surprisingly was flat for a good portion of the game, mustering just 12 shots in the first two periods.

This one stings. The dreaded regulation loss cost the Lightning a chance to pull within four points of a playoff spot.

"I'm pinning this game on us," coach Jon Cooper said. "A lot of things why we had success in the last month, we didn't do tonight. It's an 82-game season; that's going to happen. But the problem is, we already used up our gimmes. We don't have any more. That's why this one is tough. This game was ripe for the taking."

Some would pin this loss on Cooper, who didn't ride two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Bishop, who has allowed six goals in his past five games. Cooper reiterated that he's sticking to the goalie plan the Lightning has used all year: sharing the net between the two. And with Bishop expected to start Monday against Atlantic Division rival Ottawa, Vasilevskiy would have been idle for two weeks if he hadn't played Thursday.

"We've done this all year," Cooper said. "This is not one of those situations where guys are going weeks without playing. We don't sit here and say, 'Well, 'Bish' was going to play every single game down the stretch.' The goals we've been giving up, we've been giving up as a team, not our goaltender."

The Lightning's problem, like it has been in a lot of Vasilevskiy's recent starts, was scoring; Tampa Bay has scored two or fewer goals in five of Vasilevskiy's past seven losses. It didn't help that Tampa Bay (27-25-8) was playing without one of its top playmakers, Jonathan Drouin, out with the flu.

But other than Vladislav Namestnikov's goal on a deflection six minutes in — his third goal in as many games — the Lightning played too much on the perimeter. "We stopped skating," center Brayden Point said. "Took our foot off the gas."

"We were too pretty," Namestnikov said.

Said Cooper: "It was an easy night for their goaltender."

The Flames, on the other hand, went to the dirty areas, scoring first on a deflection, then on a rebound near the crease. Still, this was a one-goal game until Calgary's Dougie Hamilton scored a power-play goal with three minutes to go in the game.

Nikita Kucherov's goal with the extra attacker ensured the Triplets line wouldn't get shut out after racking up eight points Tuesday in a 4-1 win against the Oilers.

"I don't think we came prepared to play the way we should have played," wing Alex Killorn said. "We've got a huge game coming up that's really going to determine whether we make the playoffs or not."

And you can bet that Monday, Bishop will be in net.

Joe Smith can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.


First Period1, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 9 (Coburn, Point), 6:17. PenaltiesHamilton, CGY, (tripping), 6:27; Dotchin, TB, (tripping), 10:30; Stralman, TB, (delay of game), 12:49.

Second Period2, Calgary, Backlund 18 (Hamilton, Giordano), 5:04. 3, Calgary, Monahan 20 (Hamilton, Gaudreau), 6:25. PenaltiesHedman, TB, (holding), 11:18; Bouma, CGY, Major (fighting), 14:14; Dotchin, TB, Major (fighting), 14:14.

Third Period4, Calgary, Hamilton 10 (Backlund, Frolik), 17:02 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 23 (Filppula, Hedman), 18:47 (pp). PenaltiesStone, CGY, (tripping), 0:34; Killorn, TB, (tripping), 15:45; Stajan, CGY, (tripping), 18:03. Shots on GoalCalgary 8-10-7—25. Tampa Bay 5-7-13—25. Power-play opportunitiesCalgary 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 3. GoaliesCalgary, Elliott 14-13-3 (25 shots-23 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 11-13-5 (25-22).


  1. The Lightning's Victor Hedman (77). Alex Killorn (17) and Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate after an NHL hockey game against the Sabres in Globen Arena, Stockholm last week. ANDERS WIKLUND/TT  |  AP
    Tampa Bay’s schedule returns to a more normal pace tonight when it takes on the young, gritty Rangers.
  2. In this March 24, 2010, file photo, hockey personality Don Cherry, right, speaks during a news conference as actor Jared Keeso is displayed on a video screen while playing Cherry in the bio film "Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story" in Toronto. Sportsnet cut ties with Cherry on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, after the veteran hockey commentator called new immigrants "you people" on his "Coach's Corner" segment while claiming they do not wear poppies to honor Canadian veterans. DARREN CALABRESE  |  AP
    Cherry has not apologized for his remarks.
  3. The Stockholm City Library turned out to be the perfect place to get engaged. SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
    Stockholm City Library has a beautiful round hall that turned out to be the perfect place to get engaged
  4. Patrick Maroon of Tampa Bay Lightning against Buffalo on Nov. 9 in Stockholm. JONAS LJUNGDAHL  |  Bildbyran via ZUMA Press
    The team got practice, a reset and bonding from the week in Stockholm.
  5. Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning look on during the 2019 NHL Global Series Sweden, at the Ericsson Globe on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. DAVE SANDFORD/NHLI  |  TNS
    Plus, a challenge to the NHL Challenge system, Tyler Johnson’s Sweden highlights and a Jon Cooper question. | Diana C. Nearhos
  6. A full-color model of the Vasa sits in front of the 391-year-old reconstructed Swedish warship at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. DIANA NEARHOS  |  TIMES
    Swedish travels continue with two of the most popular attractions in Stockholm.
  7. Tampa celebrates after Victor Hedman, left, scored, during a NHL Global Series hockey match between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning at the Globen Arena, in Stockholm Sweden, Saturday. JESSICA GOW/TT  |  AP
    Yanni Gourde scored twice and Pat Maroon once as Tampa Bay swept the Globe Series back-to-back against the Sabres
  8. Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends goal during practice at Ericsson Globe on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. BILL WIPPERT/NHLI  |  TNS
    Ondrej Palat, Erik Cernak, Andrei Vasilevskiy and others get to play nearer to home.
  9. Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation project leader, Simon Stigenberg, was recognized with some local children as the Community Hero alongside Lightning owner Jeff Vinik during the first period of Saturday's game in Stockholm. Courtesy of NHL Images
    Tampa Bay recognizes Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation for its effort to make hockey accessible to immigrants.
  10. Buffalo Sabres' Vladimir Sobotka (17) works the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy defend during an NHL hockey game in Globen Arena, Stockholm Sweden. Friday. Nov. 8, 2019. (Anders Wiklund/TT via AP) ANDERS WIKLUND/TT  |  AP
    Lightning 3, Sabres 2: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 20 saves help lift Tampa Bay in the first game of Global Series.