TAMPA – The Colorado Avalanche came into Tampa Bay, much in the same mode as the Lightning, as they also had less of a start to the young season than what many imagined, but Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an two assists as Cale Makur stuck the deciding goal in the shootout for the Avalanche to pass the reeling Lightning, 4-3, on Saturday evening.
Lightning center Brayden Point tied the game at 3-3 with his marker with slap shot at 17:25 in third period. Tampa Bay won the face-off and Victor Hedman took the puck to the left side of the ice. He passed it back to Point who scored from between the circles.
“If we win the shoot out, there is a different vibe in this room,” said Lightning coach John Cooper. “We came back and being down late, there was a lot of times I thought we deserved to go to overtime in the game. Itwas just unfortunate that we didn’t get the win in the shut out.”
The Lightning are starting to see some concerning trends early in the season as one of those that through the 2-2-1 start, Tampa Bay has fallen behind first in all five game which controls the way they are able to sit out their attack.
It was the same on Saturday as Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog scored at 9:02 in the first to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead after one period.
“In the first period, we weren’t shooting,” said Lightning coach John Cooper. “When you leave points out there, you are leaving things to chance. Joe (Mathieu Josesph) gets a goal on a fanned shot when he goes to the dirty area and that what you have to do go to dirty areas and whack around. We got better as the game goes along we just left some things out there in the first 20 minutes.”
Captain Steven Stamkos, who had a goal and an assist, noted the loss of Nikita Kucherov and who that is impacting the Bolts with the changes in personnel and chemistry.
“Game 1 wasn”t us. A tough night all the way around but since then there have been some ups and downs. Everybody has picked Colorado to win the Stanley Cup and they came in 1-3. Everybody is going through their challenges. There are teams no one has given a chance to that are 2-0, 3-0, 4-0. There are really good things going on. We have played really good opponents and we have grounded out points. We have different guys in different roles and there are new guys int he lineup. Boys are grinding out and finding some points and that’s what we have to do.” – John Cooper
“When you lose a guy like Kuch, it shakes things up a bit in trying to find some chemistry with guys and then shake things up a but in breaking guys up that work well and find balance,” said Stamkos. “It’s going to be an adjustment play with the the power play and five on five as well. We would like to play with the lead a little more going forward.”
Joseph scored his first goal of the season on Anthony Cirelli’s third assist and Craig Killorn’s initial helper of the season in the first to tie the game at 1-1. Mikko Rantanen then pushed Colorado back ahead at 2-1 at 11:34.
“We shot the puck a little bit more in the second,” said Joseph. “I was rattled – not staying in front of net. Cirelli was there late and it was a great play from Killer (Killorn) to find me and I was able to knock it in.”
The Lightning had another tough outing as they took six penalties as well, but the penalty killers were up to speed as they only gave up one power play goal in six chances.
After Stamkos’ goal tied the game at 2-2, MacKinnon connected on that power play marker to give the Avalanche a 3-2 at 9:50 in the third period.
“Every season is different,” said Joseph. “We would like to play with the lead. I like our resiliency. We are trying to gave good starts and we have started three games with back-to back penalties and then its tough for momentum to go your way.