Opponent: New York Islanders
Did I watch Live?: Nope
Why Not?: Traveling back from Baltimore.
On Saturday?: Yup, wanted to avoid that holiday travel.
Did I watch on replay?: Yes
Three Stars: 3. Steven Stamkos 2. Frans Nielsen 1. Thomas Greiss
Worst Play: Kind of a bad luck Worst Play,but Brayden Coburn sweeping the puck onto Cal Clutterbuck's stick for the Islanders second goal gets the call. All of the hard work that the Lightning did in the second period was wiped out when he couldn't control the puck in front of his own net.
Coming off an atrocious game in D.C., it was interesting to see how the Lightning would respond in their next game. Luckily for them it was the next day so they didn't have a long time to dwell on the loss. The first period would be a big indicator on what the team's mindset was.
How did they do? Well....ok. Thanks to Alex Killorn's hand-eye coordination they had a 1-0 lead. They definitely looked better than they had against Washington. Playing the Islanders isn't easy these days as they like to hit and clog up the passing lanes. Tampa had some issues moving the puck, and it seemed that the Islanders roughhouse tactic got under their skin a bit as Ryan Callahan picked up the first fighting major of the year for the team.
The year of the penalty shot continued as Steven Stamkos drew a penalty on a partial breakaway. An old-fashioned poke check kept the score at 2-1. Minutes later Thomas Greiss stopped Valteri Filppula on a breakaway and it started to feel like those missed chances would come back to haunt the Lightning.
There were a lot of good things to take away from the loss. The Stamkos/Killorn/Filppula line was the best line on the ice. Overall they did a good job of pressuring the Islanders at all points on the ice. Instead of giving them free passes out of their own zone, the Lightning forwards did a great job of making them work hard and generated several turnovers.
It felt like the Lightning really missed some of their injured players in this game. Joel Vermin, Johnathan Marchessault and Luke Witkowski have played admirable over the last two weeks, but they are not Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat or Johnathan Drouin. Not only are the new guys in the line up, they are playing big minutes. Marchessault played almost 17 minutes and Vermin played almost 12. Throw in 12 minutes each for JT Brown and Erik Condra and that's just too many minutes for third and fourth line guys.
Losing is never “good”, but some losses are better than others. The 3-2 loss to the Islanders were one of those not-so-bad losses. Of course, if they don't build on it against Anaheim in their next game, then it's all for naught.