Score: 1-0 OT Loss
Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. And sometimes Jonas Gustavsson makes 42 saves. Boston, along with Philadelphia and Florida, is one of the teams that it seems to hurt a little more when you lose to them. It's nowhere near an actual rivalry, but losing to them just sticks in your craw a little more. Especially when they get outplayed.
The Lightning bounced back from the horrible outing against Philadelphia (who attempted 90+ shots against them) to take on the Bruins who were lurking one point behind them in the standings. Tampa Bay, with solid goaltending by Ben Bishop, was the better team on the ice, especially during the second period when they fired 22 shots at Gusavsson. Unfortunately he was equal to the task and turned aside everything thrown at him.
Boston did what Boston does, breaking up passes and blocking shots (17) and generally frustrating the Lightning in the offensive zone while countering their attacks to generate their own offense. Bishop was just as solid in net, limiting rebounds and not giving Boston second chances.
A good sign that the Lightning were playing at their best was the lack of penalties. In fact they only had one, an offsetting roughing call on Brian Boyle when he dumped Jimmy Hayes into the Boston bench. They were able to pick up four power plays of their own.
The first power play was probably the most interesting. Zdeno Chara was standing in front of his net and casually brought his stick up to his waist level. Unfortunately for him he is 7' tall and waist level is equal to Jonathan Marchessault's face and the big giant took a high-sticking penalty. A few moments into the power play, Victor Hedman guesses wrong and Brad Marchand is off to the races on a short handed breakaway. Bishop is equal to the task and makes the save.
About a minute later MY BOY NIKITA KUCHEROV is skating through the neutral zone and gets decked by John-Michael Liles' forearm/elbow. I don't think it was intentional. I don't think it was malicious. I do however think it was a shot to the head and it should have been a penalty. Mr. Liles did get a phone call from the league but was not subject to supplemental discipline. I'm sure his clean career helped with that.
|Not a penalty.|
What I really did not like was Boston announcer Jack Edwards' reaction to the play. Look, we all know Edwards' game. He is the super-homer play-by-play man. But to ignore the fact that a Boston player led a hit with his forearm/elbow and targeted his opponents head is egregious. Then to lay blame on Kucherov of “ducking” into it is not cool at all – especially after watching the replay.
His argument that the play was “horizontal” is ludicrous as well. So I can level you as long as I do it on the same plane as your head? Look. I get it. He's a Boston announcer. However, this is the stuff the league supposedly wants to get rid of. Admit that Liles made a bad play. There is no reason for his arm to be where it is. That doesn't mean you aren't supporting the team.
The good news is that Kucherov wasn't hurt badly and returned to the game. Sadly it wasn't enough to win the game. I will say one thing about the Lightning. If they get to overtime tied 0-0 they don't waste anyone's time losing the game. In October the Lightning and Blackhawks were scoreless in until overtime and then Jonathan Toews scored 17 seconds into the extra session. Brad Marchand bested that scoring 10 seconds into OT on Tuesday night.
Ah well. The Lightning get a few nights off now. Which is needed with the blue line a little banged up. Hopefully the time off will get their offense a chance to reset and find its scoring touch. Once they're back on the ice they do have favorable match-ups with Philadelphia, Columbus and Toronto on the schedule.
Did Matt Carle Get a Point?
No. No one got a point. Despite 15 minutes of ice time Mr. Carle remains 37th all-time in points for the Lightning - tied with Danton Cole and Ben Clymer. How about Coach Cooper rolling the dice and pairing Carle with rookie Slater Koekkoek? That's enough to take a few years off of my life.