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The end of the Lightning’s many streaks

Diana C. Nearhos | Observations from Tampa Bay’s loss to Vegas
Published Feb. 21, 2020

The streak is over. Make that streaks, plural. The Lightning lost to Vegas on Thursday, ending their run at 11 consecutive wins.

The Lightning’s team point streak ended at 13 with the 5-3 loss. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy lost in regulation for the first time in his last 21 starts.

Related: Vegas capitalizes on chances to beat the Lightning 5-3

Brayden Point’s point streak, the longest active one in the league, ended at 11 games when the flu forced him out of the lineup on Thursday.

The home win streak of 11 games and the unofficial runs of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are all that remain. Their official point streaks ended when they both sat out with injuries last week. Stamkos has a point in his last 12 games and Kucherov in his last 14. Notes and thoughts from the game:

Turnovers are a killer

This is not news, but a re-emergence of something we haven’t seen in awhile, 11 games to be specific.

Late in the second period, Kucherov turned the puck over just inside the offensive blue line as the defensemen changed. That became a two-on-one and goal for Vegas forward Mark Stone, 61 seconds after the Lightning tied the game.

Then in the opening minute of the third period, Braydon Coburn misplayed the puck off the faceoff at the defensive blue line and Vegas forward Ryan Reeves scored. To make matters worse on that one, Coburn took a holding penalty 30 seconds later and forward Max Pacioretty scored immediately.

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There may be signs of life on the power play

The Lightning entered the game on a dismal stretch of 4-of-54 going back to Jan. 2. But Stamkos scored two power-play goals, both on the very familiar one-timer in the left circle. The second came on a nice pass from Kucherov through a very small passing lane.

Scoring twice (first time since doing so against Vancouver on Jan. 7) and scoring on 50 percent of their chances (first since Dec. 23 against Florida) are both encouraging.

That both goals came in the flow of the usual power play is also a good sign. But I’m waiting for two good games. Twice already, I’ve thought a goal was a sign of breaking out of the slump only to see them sink back in.

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Too many goals

Cutting down on goals against has been the name of the game for the Lightning this season. They’ve mostly succeeded. But five goals for Vegas was too many.

Coach Jon Cooper is fond of saying two goals give you a good chance to win, three puts the game in the balance and four means you have to outscore them. Sure, the Lightning have the ability to score five goals in a game — they’ve done it 15 times this year. But it’s better when they don’t have to.

They hadn’t given up more than three goals in a game in 22 games this calendar year.

The aforementioned turnovers and a poorly timed penalty definitely exacerbated things. But those weren’t the only three breakdowns in an otherwise great game. The Lightning are better when they are sharper defensively.

The new guy looked good

Blake Coleman buzzed around in his first game with the Lightning.

Related: Blake Coleman balances trade with expecting his first child

On his first shift, he took a hit, won a battle along the boards, forechecked hard, plus managed to save the puck from heading out of the zone. In the first period alone, he logged almost five minutes of ice time, put two shots on net and recorded two takeaways. He took a penalty in the second period.

Coleman needs some time to settle into the Lightning. He’s had one practice and a game. It’s hard to join a team and immediately pick up the system. But initial impressions look good.

He’ll get a second taste of life with the Lightning on Saturday, when they take visit Arizona (8 p.m. Fox Sports Sun).

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.