Lightning Stall in Loss to Senators

by | Feb 22, 2024

Lightning Stall in Loss to Senators

by | Feb 22, 2024

TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled with their level of play in their last two games which encompass a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday evening which followed Saturday night’s 9-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

The Bolts had problems with the speed of the Senators on Monday and since Ottawa was able to score four times on the rush, it stymied Tampa Bay’s emotions which could have hit a rewind to Saturday’s loss to the Panthers.

As soon as they got that first one, we were just flat and maybe it’s remnants from what happened the other night and everything changed,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “We couldn’t quite get it back, especially after they went up two.”

The Senators cashed in on their first two goals in the middle of the first period as Tim Stutzle went by his defender for a 1-0 lead when he rushed Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy inside the net at 10:45.

The Senators capitalized on a turnover in their zone which saw Ottawa push the puck up the ice as Claude Giroux immediately released the puck back to Mathieu Joseph who accounted for his ninth goal of the season and the Senators took a 2-0 lead at 14:35.

The two goals steered the course of the game as Tampa Bay never could fully get its momentum back.

“We had a good start, had a lot of good looks and they scored the first one, it deflated us a little bit,” noted Victor Hedman.

Giving up the early lead and not being able to catch Ottawa with around two and-a-half periods remaining was a tough endeavor  for the Lightning, who had won 11 of its last 14 games going into the loss to Florida.

“There goes the opportunity to get points and everybody around you won today and you didn’t,” said Cooper. “We can’t be doing this. Win one, lose one; win two, lose two, so that’s not going to get it done.”

As the loss dropped Tampa Bay to 30-22-5 in the Eastern Conference and the Lightning now rest in seventh place with 65 points, the team must restore its emotion and stability game-by-game to nail down a playoff spot.

“You’ve got to bring more emotion to the game than we did our last two games,” Cooper explained. “When we have that, things are going for us. That’s paramount for us, as well as getting in some good hard practices the next two days.”

Cooper was pleased with the first half of the first period, but was disappointed with the Lightning not being able to score given the early opportunities in the Ottawa zone.

“I thought we responded well for 9:15,” Cooper said. “We spent the first 10 minutes of the period in their end and had a whole bunch of moments. It rose the heart rate and they didn’t go in.”

Chaffee Chat: Tampa Bay forward Mitchell Chaffee brought a competitive mantra as he scored Tampa Bay’s first goal at 16:35 in the second period. Chaffee collected the puck on the right side of the crease and drove home his second goal of the season. This was Tampa Bay’s 12th shot on goal as it took place late in the second period.

“He’s a worker, but he just does what he is asked and he doesn’t try to come outside of his game plan and he doesn’t try to manufacture things that are not there,” said Cooper.

The Lightning coach is pleased with how Chaffee studies and acknowledges the game plans. Tampa Bay signed him last summer and he his NHL career by playing two games with the Minnesota Wild in 2021-22.

“He wins his puck battles and he is in the right spot,” said Cooper. “He’s earned his ice time. He earned it tonight and if he keeps doing this, he is going to get more in the future.”

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