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Game Recaps

Sergachev flirting with NHL history as defense leads Lightning to another victory

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 16, 2017

While running away with the Atlantic Division in the opening half of the season, the Lightning sometimes need to find new ways to challenge themselves.

Cruising along in the third period on Saturday in Denver, the Lightning went on cruise control and turned a blow out in to a close game before holding on for a 6-5 victory against the Colorado Avalanche.

Tampa Bay has now won seven consecutive games, the third longest winning streak in franchise history, and have opened up a nine-point lead in the division standings over Toronto.

But they unexpectedly had to work to secure their 24th victory and 50th point of the season after getting a career night from Anton Stralman and a monster effort from Victor Hedman to overcome a five-point night from Colorado’s Gabrel Landeskog.

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Tampa Bay Lightning play like the Alpha against last place Arizona

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 14, 2017

Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning played like dogs in the desert.

On Thursday, the top team in the league played like the Alpha.

Brayden Point recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick, Tyler Johnson had another multi-point effort and Nikita Kucherov scored again to lead the Lightning to a 4-1 victory against Arizona at Gila River Arena. Tampa Bay has won a season-best six consecutive games and continue to pace the league with 23 wins and 48 points.

But after Tampa Bay took care of business with a 4-1 victory at Arizona, the Lightning now await word on one of their top forwards, who left the game in the third period with an apparent arm injury.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy joins rare company following Tampa Bay Lightning victory in St. Louis

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 12, 2017

The works of Salvador Dali might be described as imperfects works of art.

The methods were sometimes madness. The scenes often complex to view.

But the end result proved the same – a framed piece of original art worthy to hung next to the rest.

That’s pretty much how the Tampa Bay Lightning feel about Tuesday’s 3-0 victory at St. Louis. It is just worthy enough to be one of the 22 in the right column.

But it sure wasn’t pretty, outside the play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who recorded his third shutout of the season and became the first goalie this season to reach 20 victories on the season and joined some rare company in the process.

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Brayden Point on the mark in overtime, once again, for Tampa Bay Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 9, 2017

TAMPA – Brayden Point proved to be right on the mark in overtime, once again.

The sophomore center scored the overtime winning goal – his third this season – 36 seconds in to the extra session to lift Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. His heroics helped the Lightning close out a perfect four-game homestand for the first time since Jan. 15-21, 2016.

And once again, Point was in the middle of a positive result, as he usually is for Tampa Bay.

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Life of Tampa Bay Lightning back Peter Budaj has meant a lot of sitting without playing

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 7, 2017

TAMPA – Hours upon hours, Peter Budaj practices.

The 35-year-old goaltender faces puck after puck - in practice.

When it comes to game time, he generally finds himself down at the end of the bench, baseball cap on top of his head and cheers on his teammates, supporting his fellow netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Rarely has Budaj led the team down the tunnel toward the ice as the starter.

Thursday against Colorado was the fifth start of the season for Budaj. It was the 28th game of the season for the Lightning, making his performance all that much more impressive in picking up his second victory.

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Tampa Bay Lightning depth knows no depths this season

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 5, 2017

TAMPA – Dig deep in to the box score from Tuesday’s game to find the story of the game.

Go a little deeper.

A little deeper.

Put some elbow grease in to it.

It still doesn’t match the depth on display from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They can beat you with any line on any shift in any game.

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Johnny B. Good, Johnny B. Scoring as Tampa Bay Lightning sink Sharks

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 2, 2017

TAMPA – Johnny on the spot.

Johnny B. Goode.

Johnny finally be out of a slump.

A 15-game goalless drought had many wondering where, exactly, was Tyler Johnson this season.

Saturday, he answered that question, putting himself right in the forefront during a 5-2 victory against San Jose.

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Tampa Bay Lightning get what they deserve in Boston

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 29, 2017

The legs feed the wolf.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, apparently, were not hungry enough on Wednesday because they had no legs in the second half of a back-to-back.

Despite a close score line in a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Lightning were never really in danger of escaping the game with a positive result.

Tampa Bay got what it deserved.

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Tampa Bay Lightning find a way through a game they needed to find a way

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 28, 2017

Live reports coming in from Buffalo where special correspondent Chicken Little tells us that, upon looking up, the sky in fact is not falling around the Tampa Bay Lightning, after all.

The Lightning ended a mild losing streak with a strong defensive effort as Andrei Vasilevskiy pitched the 34-save shutout in a 2-0 victory at Buffalo on Tuesday for his sixth career shutout. The victory lifted Tampa Bay back to the top of the league standings with 36 points as the Lightning improved to 17-5-2 on the season.

Mikhail Sergachev and Dan Girardi scored, giving Tampa Bay 16 goals from defensemen this season.

Having dropped three of four and two straight heading in to the game, there were scrutinizing eyes peering in ready to judge the Lightning in a game against one of the bottom teams in the league.

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Tampa Bay Lightning see game taken out of their hands in loss to Penguins

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 25, 2017

The sky, apparently, is falling all around the Lightning.

Just check in with a portion of the fan base these days as Tampa Bay has now dropped a second consecutive game, falling to Pittsburgh 5-2 on Saturday. It’s the first time the Lightning have lost back-to-back games this season.

Nothing brings out the mass of negativity like a bit of adversity.

But let’s keep a thing or two in perspective, the Penguins had plenty of help, scoring three 5-on-3 goals, and the Lightning did not play as poorly as the outcome indicates.

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Name may change, but Lightning still fight demons in House of Horrors

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 24, 2017

Amityville will always be Amityville, even if you try to change the name. It will always be a house of horrors.

Same can be said for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who played their first game on Friday in the newly named Capital One Arena. It still felt like the Verizon Center.

Whenever Tampa Bay plays in Washington, points always seem to die for the Lightning.

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Good teams learn to do what Tampa Bay Lightning accomplished against the Blackhawks

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 22, 2017

TAMPA – In many conversations I’ve had with Bobby “The Chief’’ Taylor through the years – and there have been plenty of them – regarding his days with the Philadelphia Flyers during their heyday, he has discussed some of the team rules they approached every season.

One of the biggest during the years the Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cups was – don’t lose two games in a row.

It’s a good habit good teams develop – avoid stretches of losing. The Tampa Bay Lightning, well, I look at them as a good team and were coming off a loss in their last game. So, did they face the Chicago Blackhawks in a foul mood on Wednesday?

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Tampa Bay Lightning game on Saturday had a Forrest Gump feel

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 18, 2017

TAMPA – Through the first 20 games of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have lived a charmed life.

You might suggest, in some ways, it’s been a Forrest Gump-esque start, winning 15 of the opening 19 games. Everything the Lightning have done through the first-quarter of the season has, for the most part, turned in to a success.

But sometimes, just like Forrest Gump making his marathon run, you step in something less than desirable.

”What’s the old bumper sticker say in Forrest Gump?’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “That stuff happens.’’

It happened to Tampa Bay on Saturday as the New York Islanders raced out to a big lead and held on for a 5-3 victory, handing the Lightning just the third regulation loss of the year and first since Oct. 28.

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Tampa Bay Lightning welcome Ben Bishop back to town, but it wasn't exactly friendly

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 16, 2017

TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning are the gold standard in the NHL.

Every team Tampa Bay faces wants to measure where they stand against the top team in the league.

Time and time again, the opposing team skates away, eyes looking down toward the ice wondering what in the world just hit them.

The Dallas Stars were the latest to feel that pain as Ben Bishop’s homecoming was spoiled by his former team in a 6-1 Tampa Bay victory.

Needless to say, the Stars came in looking to use the Lightning as a measuring stick only to find out they don’t quite stack up.

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Tampa Bay Lightning finish goal mine trip through California

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 12, 2017

California Dreamin’.

Tampa Bay not only survived the Golden Triangle, they thrived.

The Lightning’s 2-1 victory at Anaheim on Sunday led Tampa Bay to accomplish something only ever done one other time in franchise history.

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Wizards of Ov show more magic to lead Tampa Bay Lightning to more road glory

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 9, 2017

The quick-strike Tampa Bay Lightning offense dethroned the Kings on Thursday behind the strong play of hockey’s version of Murder’s Row.

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored once again while Vladislav Namestnikov picked up his third goal in the past two nights as the trio combined for six points against Los Angeles, one night after combining for nine points in a victory at San Jose.

Good luck trying to figure out how to dispel the magic displayed by the Wizards of Ov.

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Tampa Bay Lightning top line, relentless puck pursuit lead the way in San Jose

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 8, 2017

The Lightning went hunting for pucks on Wednesday and ended up bagging the Sharks..

Tampa Bay started off the Golden Triangle trip in California with an impressive 5-1 victory against San Jose at the Shark Tank. The Lightning’s top line skated circles around the Sharks, combining for nine points to end San Jose’s winning streak at four games.

Tampa Bay improved to 12-2-2 on the season to continue with the best start in franchise history.

So how did they arrive at the latest victory?

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Early season favorites for the Cup, Tampa Bay Lightning still have work to do to live up to 2004 standard

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 4, 2017

TAMPA – Off to the best start in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Lightning are considered one of the odds-favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season.

With an 11-2-2 record following Saturday’s 5-4 shootout victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s easy to see why Tampa Bay is an early-season pick.

Pretty apropos considering the 2004 Stanley Cup team was celebrated in a pregame ceremony. But it’s way too early to start making comparisons between the two teams.

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Tampa Bay Lightning may have been robbed, but who really committed larceny in overtime loss

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
November 2, 2017

TAMPA – One might suggest the Lightning were robbed during Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

But I might suggest that it was actually Tampa Bay, and specifically, the Lightning goaltender, who did the thieving on Thursday.

Let’s examine the evidence.

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Tampa Bay Lightning build a snowman in Sunrise

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 30, 2017

The last Lightning visit to Sunrise proved to be a wakeup call.

The second visit felt like wild winter ride through the mountainside. By the time the journey ended on Monday, Tampa Bay built a snowman.

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It's not that the Tampa Bay Lightning lost to Anaheim, it's how the Ducks beat them

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 28, 2017

TAMPA – It happens.

No team in the history of the NHL – hell, most pro sports for that matter – can put it together every single game and come out on top. (Well, except maybe the 1972 Miami Dolphins.)

But it’s not that the Tampa Bay Lightning lost on Saturday for the first time since Oct. 7, falling 4-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, it’s how they came to that defeat.

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Tampa Bay Lightning young goaltender showed some key signs of growing in to his role against Detroit

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 26, 2017

TAMPA – Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs.

Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign.

For Andrei Vasilevskiy, there was one important sign he put on display Thursday as the Tampa Bay Lightning won yet again, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at Amalie Arena.

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Tampa Bay Lightning streak lives on, but signs of the end may be at hand

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 24, 2017

The streak lives, long live the streak.

Only, well, see the thing is, there was a problem with the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 victory against the Carolina Huricanes on Tuesday. It was deceiving.

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Tampa Bay Lightning blowout victory defined by one save

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 21, 2017

TAMPA – A stat in a box score often tells very little of a story.

Saturday’s 7-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins is chock full of stats.

It will tell you Steven Stamkos tied a career high with four points. That Nikita Kucherov had two more goals and finished with three points. It will show rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev had a third consecutive multi-point night and scored his third goal in the past two games.

The box score also tells us Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots.

But it doesn’t tell you about the one save that changed everything in the game.

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Welcome to the show, Mikhail Sergachev as Tampa Bay Lightning rookie leads team to victory in Columbus

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 19, 2017

Welcome to the show, kid.

With decision day number one rapidly approaching for Tampa Bay Lightning rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, the 19-year-old made a statement on his behalf on Thursday in helping Andrei Vasilevskiy silence the canon in a 2-0 victory at Columbus.

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Kucherov makes history again, but Tampa Bay Lightning unable to hold late lead

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 17, 2017

Nikita Kucherov keeps making history by scoring goals.

The Lightning continue to give them up.

Tampa Bay will need the former to continue until they can cut down on the later.

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Kucherov grabs a slice of history in first visit to Little Caesars Arena for Tampa Bay Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 16, 2017

Nikita Kucherov grabbed a small slice of history in Tampa Bay’s first ever visit to Little Caesars Arena on Monday, leading the Lightning to a 3-2 victory.

With a pair of goals, Kucherov joined an exclusive club and did something that has not been accomplished in nearly a decade.

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Sunrise proved a wake up call for Tampa Bay Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 14, 2017

TAMPA – Like the rooster announcing the arrival of the day, Sunrise proved a wakeup call for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Consider the Lighting wide awake after two areas of vast improvement.

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Tampa Bay Lightning victory is totally Koekkoek

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 12, 2017

TAMPA – The Lightning game was completely Koekkoek on Thursday.

There was also Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman, Killorn and Vasilevskiy, too.

All of them, plus a few more, made big contributions to Tampa Bay’s 5-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena, led by a two-goal effort from defenseman Slater Koekkoek, who record his first and second career goals in the NHL.

Steve Stamkos notched his first goal of the season – and first since Nov. 15 of last season – Nikita Kucherov scored for the fourth consecutive game, Alex Killorn set a career high with four assists while Victor Hedman scored his first of the season with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was key in net, stopping 36 shots, including a potential game-tying goal in the third period as Jake Guentzel came in on a breakaway.

It all added up to one crazy game, the type that tends to send coaches looking for the textbook on how to play defense.

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Tampa Bay Lightning comeback victory felt like a step in the right direction

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 9, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - Three games in to the season seems a little soon to call any victory a character win.

So we’ll just have to view the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 overtime, come-from-behind victory against Washington a character building win. Because after how the first two games of the season transpired, the Lightning needed something to build from.

Monday’s game in which Tampa Bay twice fell behind by two goals before Brayden Point capped off the comeback with an overtime power play winner, looked like the first brick to help build the foundation for the season.

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Tampa Bay Lightning fall hard at Florida

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 7, 2017

Well, Game Two didn’t work out quite so well, did it.

A night after starting the season off with a victory on home ice, the Lightning went on the road and . . . well, blew it.

In the end, they probably reaped what they sowed on Saturday in falling 5-4 to the same Florida Panthers they beat the night before. But the manner in which they got to that result is a bit alarming.

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There are questions surrounding Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in first season opener

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
October 6, 2017

TAMPA – Questions require answers.

And until there are answers, there will be questions.

Even when it comes to the Lightning goaltending situation. After all, Andrei Vasilevskiy is not Ben Bishop. Andrei Vasilevskiy is not the goaltender who led the Lighting to prominence and nearly to the promised land.

So, there will be questions.

Can Vasilevskiy handle being a No. 1 goaltender?

Will Vasilevskiy be able to provide the consistent goaltending like Tampa Bay had in the previous four years?

He’s not Ben Bishop, there is no question about that. But he might end up being even better than his predecessor. That first answer might have come in Tampa Bay’s 5-3 victory against the Florida Panthers in the season opener.

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As the season closes, Lightning feel the sting of missing out of the playoffs

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 9, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - The curtain came down for the final time on the 2016-17 Lightning season on Sunday.

There will be no curtain calls, no encore acts. The show ended four acts short of the final.

But the final game of the season offered one more chance to put on a show and offer a tease to what the next production might look like in the Fall while wondering what a rewritten script might have looked like this season.

Brayden Point capped off a sensational rookie season with two goals and an assist to help Tampa Bay close things out with a 4-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Amalie Arena.

Victor Hedman wound up with a goal and two points to finish with a career high 72 points, second among defenseman, while leading all defenseman in assists with 56, third overall among all skaters.

But what could have been.

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Vasilevskiy, Kucherov lead Lightning to live another day

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 7, 2017

Lightning strong.

That’s the only way to describe the resolve of a Tampa Bay team counted out so many times.

Yet, they just keep getting back up on their skates and pushing forward, trying to find some way – any way – to keep winning games.

That’s exactly what this team did, once again, waltzing in to Montreal and staying in the playoff dance heading in to the final two days of the regular season.

And, for at least one day, the Lightning wlll be big fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Exclamation, Point help keep hope alive for Tampa Bay Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 6, 2017

Live to fight another day.

That was the rally cry for the Lightning heading in to Thursday’s showdown at the Air Canada Centre against the Maple Leafs.

A loss of any kind and Tampa Bay would be eliminated from postseason contention. Win and keep hope alive.

Hope remains alive.

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Lightning playoff hopes take critical blow in Boston, but it's not from a lack of heart

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 4, 2017

The season is not dead, although it’s likely over for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But here’s the thing, that’s what many – and I’ll point the finger at myself a little as well – thought when the Lightning came out of the All-Star break and dropped consecutive games to Boston and Ottawa. It felt like must-win games at that point, and they lost them both.

It dropped the Lightning to 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference standings at the time.

The season looked lost then, even if the gap between Tampa Bay and the final playoff spot was eight points at the time. Steven Stamkos was out, Ryan Callahan suffered a setback in his recovery from hip surgery.

And yet . . . .

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With little outside help, Lightning take care of their own business against Dallas

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 2, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Franchises have no friends around the NHL.

So with it comes to seeking outside help at this time of the season, it’s the equivalent of approaching a neighbors front porch looking to borrow a cup of sugar only to have the door slammed shut and locked while the curtains are closed and the lights get turned about before even knocking on the door.

That was the case once again as Chicago did Tampa Bay no favors as the Boston Bruins skated in to the United Center for a Sunday matinee and came out with another victory to keep climbing the Atlantic Division standings.

There will be no help forthcoming for the Lightning. All they can do is protect their own house and hope it’s enough to keep the foundation of the season from crumbling around them.

For one more night, Tampa Bay stood its ground.

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Point gained? More like a point lost for Tampa Bay in OT setback to Montreal

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 1, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – For the Lightning, Saturday was about a point gained.

In reality, it was more of a point lost.

The positive to take out of a 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal was the fact that Tampa Bay did pick up a point, which is far a better scenario than getting zero, particularly after entering the third period down a goal to Carey Price.

But, after seeing both Boston and Toronto pick up victories on Saturday, the single point meant the Lightning lost ground in the playoff race heading in to the final week of the regular season.

Tampa Bay, which hosts Dallas on Sunday 6 p.m., Fox Sports Sun, 970-AM, tblpowerplay, fell four points behind Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning also sit five points behind both Toronto and Ottawa.

And that’s why Saturday was more of a point lost.

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Lightning find another way even after another top forward has to miss a game

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 30, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – At this point of the season, it’s never about the how.

And considering the lineup the Lightning sent out on the ice on Thursday against Detroit, it really didn’t matter how Tampa Bay pulled off a 5-3 victory against Detroit. The only thing that mattered was the two points put in to the win column for the Lightning.

About an hour before game time, leading scorer Nikita Kucherov was sent home because of illness, which left Tampa Bay shorthanded, having to dress just 19 players for the game.

It also meant that between injuries to Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Ryan Callahan plus the absence of Kucherov, Tampa Bay was missing a combined 690 goals between four players.

So naturally, Tampa Bay got goals from five different players on Thursday with a combined career goal total of 129.

That’s just the way things are going for the Lightning down the stretch – one man down, next man up. And on Thursday it was needed to keep pace with Toronto and Boston – both of which won their games – in the Eastern Conference standings, while keeping hard-charging Carolina just behind them.

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Good Gourde, Lightning pull off rare rally to keep playoff hopes alive

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 27, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Good Gourde, they did it again.

The never-say-die Tampa Bay Lightning, which have been knocked to the canvas more times this season than Rocky Balboa, once again climbed to their skates to stay in the fight and keep their playoff drive alive.

”Something new is giving us a left hook here and an uppercut here, but the guys won’t go down,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.

Yanni Gourde scored his second career goal, converting a partial breakaway with 45 seconds left in overtime to complete Tampa Bay’s comeback effort against the Chicago Blackhawks for a 5-4 victory on Monday.

After falling behind 4-1 in the second period, the Lightning came roaring back to tie the game with three goals in a span of five minutes to tie the game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time the Lightning have overcome a three-goal deficit to win a game since Nov. 6, 2011, against the Florida Panthers.

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Kucherov continues to carry the Lightning on his shoulders with OT winner

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 24, 2017

Reaching the postseason was always going to be a Herculean task for the Lightning.

Fortunately Tampa Bay has one of its star players taking on the role of Atlas, trying to carry this team on his back – Nikita Kucherov.

The All-Star forward did it again on Friday, scoring the overtime winner to lift the Lightning to a 2-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the last game for Tampa Bay at Joe Louis Arena. Kucherov’s goal with 1:32 left in the extra period pulled the Lightning to within one point of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

”Found me backdoor," Kucherov told NHL.com. "It was nice to finish that one. Every game is huge for us right now. Just got to take one game and a time and see what's going to happen.’’

With eight games remaining, the window to reach the postseason remains open, thanks in large part to Kucherov’s efforts.

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Will to win leads Lightning to key victory to keep playoff window open

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 23, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Lightning trips to Beantown tend to lead to beatdowns for the visitors.

But Tampa Bay showed plenty of fight and delivered counter-punch after counter-punch on Thursday before skating away with a 6-3 decision at TD Garden, led by Nikita Kucherov’s second hat trick in the past 13 games to pull him in to a tie for second in the league with 37 goals.

The Lightning won for just the seventh time ever in Boston during the regular season, a monumental accomplishment under the circumstances. A loss of any kind would have all but put the final nail in the coffin on the season for Tampa Bay.

Instead, Thursday proved to be opposite of Tampa Bay’s previous game as a team that needed to win was committed to doing just that as Tampa Bay pulled to within three points of the Bruins for the final playoff spot with a game in hand.

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Lightning's lack of commitment to winning shows in crippling loss

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 21, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Effort.

I’m sure, by the time you read this, the word “effort’’ and “lack of’’ will be used a bushel of times to describe the Lightning’s play Tuesday in an inexplicable 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. If I had a nickel for every time that phrase will be uttered between now and Thursday, it would be enough to host that subscriber watch party I’ve mentioned for reaching a threshold of subscriptions.

But Tuesday was not about effort. It was all about commitment, and the lack thereof for a team that should have been all about being committed to win.

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Second consecutive loss leaves Lightning with little wiggle room down stretch

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 18, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – The margin for error is pretty much down to slim and none. And none has one foot out the door.

After climbing up the standings steadily since the All-Star break, the Lightning have slipped back in to 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings after a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

T.J. Oshie registered his third career hat trick and added an assist while Nicklas Backstrom had four assists as the Capitals broke open a tight game with a pair of goals in the opening six minutes of the third period.

Tampa Bay suffered its first back-to-back regulation losses since Jan. 31-Feb. 2, the two games coming out of the All-Star break. The Lightning are now two points behind Toronto for the second wild card spot with 11 games to play. The Maple Leafs have a game in hand.

There is no room left on the schedule for games like Saturday.

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Sometimes the schedule catches up with teams, for the Lightning, that happened Thursday

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 16, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – It happens.

Sometimes the schedule just catches up with a team and, well, it happens.

Of course nobody wants to bite on the question when it’s asked, but the recent schedule the Lightning have endured had an impact on performance. The end result is a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game with huge playoff implications.

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the result left then in the same exact position the team was in before the puck dropped – one point out of a playoff position.

But heading in to their fourth game in six nights, and not arriving back home from Ottawa after Tuesday’s game until 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Lightning were going to have a difficult time being at their best.

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Playoffs? Believe it as Lightning now tied for final spot in Eastern Conference

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 14, 2017

When the NHL trade deadline passed on March 2, many wondered if Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was raising the white flag on the season.

Turns out, he may have actually been flapping the green flag, because it’s been go-go-go ever since.

Following Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory in Ottawa, Tampa Bay is now tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings with the New York Islanders while sitting three points behind the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic Division standings.

The Lightning sit one point ahead of Toronto, which comes to Tampa on Thursday.

Victor Hedman scored his third overtime goal of the season, tying Dan Boyle for most by a defenseman in one season in franchise history, converting a cross-ice pass from Ondrej Palat with 55 seconds left in overtime to lift the Lightning to a fourth consecutive victory.

Now, Tampa Bay finds itself in a spot few could have predicted a month ago.

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Birthday Boy right on Point as Lightning grind out another victory

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 13, 2017

Have a night, Brayden Point.

At an age many in the U.S. go out celebrating with a night on the town, Point celebrated with a big night in the biggest town.

Point, who turned 21 on Monday, registered his first career multi-goal game to lead Tampa Bay to a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Point scored the game-winner with 6:39 remaining in the third period, redirecting a pass from Ondrej Palat through the legs of Antii Raanta, who shut out the Lightning one week earlier.

Gabriel Dumont scored his second of the season with Peter Budaj, making his second start since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, stopped 26 shots – including 12 in the first period – to pick up his first victory in a Lightning jersey.

But the night belonged to Point, who has been elevated to first-line center in the absence of Tyler Johnson and responded in a big way on Monday, allowing Tampa Bay to move within a point of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Maple Leafs hold a game in hand on Tampa Bay and the two teams meet at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

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Good Gourde, Lightning find another way to win despite depleted lineup

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 11, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Good Gourde, the kids are all right.

A depleted lineup for the Lightning – which is absent six centers due to injury or trade – continues to plug holes which open. And every time a hole opens, it’s generally filled by another young and fresh face to the locker room.

Yanni Gourde became the latest to make a big impact, notching his first career NHL goal while shorthanded at a key moment in the game with an extra-level effort to help lift Tampa Bay to a 3-2 victory against Florida on Saturday at Amalie Arena.

Ondrej Palat scored the winner with 2:23 left in regulation to cap off a rally from down to goals and improve the Lightning to 10-2-3 in the past 15 games and move to within three points of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay is also five points behind Boston for the third spot in the Atlantic Division.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots, including all 15 in the third period, to improve to 5-0-1 in his six starts since the trade of Ben Bishop on Feb. 26. Vasilevskiy has allowed two or fewer goals in five of those six games.

But it’s been efforts like the one from Gourde, playing just his seventh career NHL game, that has provided a lift for the Lightning.

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Lightning victory marred by loss of three forwards to leg injuries

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 9, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Just as the Lightning appear to have things heading in the right direction, Thursday’s 4-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild left them feeling bewildered.

Nikita Kucherov’s three-point night, his fourth of three-or-more points in the past eight games while reaching the 30-goal mark for the second-consecutive season, was overshadowed by the loss of three players to potentially long-term injuries. Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette all had to be helped off the ice after suffering left-leg related injuries during the game.

That left Tampa Bay with nine forwards on the bench – which counts converted defenseman Luke Witkowski – for most of the third period.

When any of the three players might return is unknown, though it doesn’t sound promising.

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Lightning needed two points, but they earned one against Rangers

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 6, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - Moral victories mean very little to the Lightning.

Tampa Bay is a team in desperate need for actual victories. Two points are what matter the most.

And on a night the Lighntning had a chance to move to within a point of a playoff spot with two points, Tampa Bay only found one.

But it was one hard-earned, well-deserved point following a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena, one that left the Lightning feeling upbeat despite the final result.

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Nikita Kucherov's school yard move keeps Tampa Bay moving up the standings

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 4, 2017

Nikita Kucherov down by the school yard lifted the Lighting closer to the playoff stage.

Kucherov reached in to his bag of tricks on Saturday, pulling off a deft move in the second round of the shootout to give Tampa Bay a key 2-1 shootout victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Key Bank Center.

The win pulled the Lightning to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the idle New York Islanders. Tampa Bay is also two points behind Toronto and one point behind Florida in the standings heading in to an important week where the Lightning host the New York Rangers, Minnesota and Florida.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots along with both shootout attempts to win his third consecutive game since Ben Bishop was traded a week ago.

But it was the shootout goal by Kucherov, which blew up social media around the league on a debate whether it was intentional or not, improved Tampa Bay to 8-2-2 in the past 12 games.

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Margin for error slims down more for Lightning after setback in Pittsburgh

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 3, 2017

Tampa Bay has very little margin for error in its evaporating playoff hopes.

But there is a little. And most of that was used up on Friday in Pittsburgh as the Lightning fell 5-2 to the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

In the race to reach the 93-point mark – the projected number of points it’s going to take to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference according to Hockey-Reference.com – Tampa Bay was always going to drop a couple here or there along the way.

With Pittsburgh on the schedule, and the way recent meetings have gone against the Penguins, this was one of those games that even getting a point would have been a win.

But despite the best efforts of goaltender Peter Budaj, who made his Lightning debut and stopped 30 shots, Tampa Bay suffered its second regulation loss since Feb. 2

It puts an extra emphasis to pick up a win on Saturday in Buffalo.

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Undeserved victory? Perhaps, but Lightning earn a critical two points

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
March 1, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Sometimes the eye test belies the score. Sometimes the advance stats tell the wrong story.

In the end, it truly is the result that matters, particularly for a Lightning team desperate to pick up victories and points to keep climbing the standings.

That’s why Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina proved so critical coming in a game where Tampa Bay hardly put forth its best effort. Yet, the win pulled the Lightning to within three points of the final playoff spot with 20 games remaining.

All this despite Tampa Bay proving to be trade deadline sellers, moving three key pieces ahead of Wednesday’s deadline – Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula, who was the latest to move when he was dealt to Philadelphia.

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Kucherov, Vasilevskiy lead the way to playoff-esque victory against Ottawa

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 28, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Welcome to the playoffs, Tampa Bay Lightning.

Or, at least what is their version of the postseason. And on Monday, after losing Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle in separate trades, the Lightning went out and played like it was their playoffs.

Because it is. And a 5-1 blowout victory against Ottawa is the type of result they are going to need in the final 21 games of the season to have any hope of staying in the race for the postseason.

Nikita Kucherov notched his second career hat trick and recorded his second four-point night in the past three games to lead the charge. Jonathan Drouin set a regular-season personal best with three assists while Victor Hedman finished with two helpers.

And perhaps in the biggest showing of the night, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who assumes the No. 1 role with Bishop now gone, snapped a personal five-game winless streak with a 39-save showing for his first victory since Jan. 24.

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Going against the grain to start Vasilevskiy over Bishop doesn't pay off

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 23, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Sometimes the coaching manual is followed to the letter.

Every dot is followed, ever tee is crossed and everything goes by the book.

But sometimes, the playbook is tossed to the side and the unconventional approach is used.

When it works, the coach looks like a genius. When it doesn’t workout, well, it opens the door to second guessing.

It was the later that came to the forefront even before the Lightning took to the ice ahead of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at Amalie Arena.

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Reunited trio has rekindles old familiar feeling for Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 21, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Good things happen in threes.

For the Lightning, that means one particular trio of forwards – the Triplets.

The dominating combination of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat has returned to the form that saw the three help lead Tampa Bay to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. Right now, they could be leading the Lightning to an improbable run just to get in to the playoffs.

The line combined for three goals and eight points in a 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Amalie Arena on Tuesday as the Lightning’s late-season climb up the standings continued.

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Holy $$%# , Jonathan Drouin pulls off another magical goal to rescue Lightning

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 19, 2017

The Hockey Gods can be cruel.

But they can also be rewarding.

And sometimes – sometimes – the reward is so gratifying, you forget all about cursing the Gods a short time before.

For the Lightning, watching Jonathan Drouin put forth a shift full of just pure determination and will, backed up by his incredible hands and skill, to register his first career overtime goal to earn Tampa Bay a victory they had to have, was just a stroke of magic.

It’s the type of shift that sports networks devote a full package of time to explain, dissect and discuss. It was that good.

And it was well worth having to endure an overturned goal call against the Lightning and a double-deflection, game-tying goal in the final minute.

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Tampa Bay Lightning suffer bye-week blues, like many teams before

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 18, 2017

The bye week this season has not been kind to teams.

The new wrinkle in the season, which mandates a five-day break for all teams at one point in the season, has seen teams emerge from the break looking like they were skating on the same sand they spent time sun bathing in the previous few days as just three teams – Toronto, Pittsburgh and Arizona – had won in their first game back. The other 12 lost, nine of them in regulation.

The Lightning looked primed to buck that trend, heading to Dallas on Saturday for the first game in a week and looking to build off momentum built before the break.

But despite putting forth a strong effort worthy of a victory, Tampa Bay became yet another casualty of the bye-week blues, falling in overtime 4-3 to the Dallas Stars.

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Momentum building for Tampa Bay Lightning after victory at Winnipeg

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 11, 2017

That momentum the Lightning knew they needed to get on a run, it might be building up.

Tampa Bay waltzed in to Winnipeg looking to take the next step in that process and skated out with a 4-1 victory at MTS Centre on Saturday.

Ben Bishop stopped 32 shots for his third consecutive victory, and has allowed three goal during the streak. He has a 0.97 goals against average and .961 percentage during the streak.

Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman all finished with a goal and as assist. Brian Boyle also scored for the Lightning, which improved to 3-0-1 in the past four games, picking up points in four consecutive games for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Nov. 14-19.

Tampa Bay also snapped a seven-game winless stretch in the second of back-to-back games. The only other time the Lightning won on consecutive nights came Nov. 14-15.

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Tampa Bay Lightning fail to tame Wild in shootout loss

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 10, 2017

In a game which Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness pass Scotty Bowman for most games coached (head or assistant) in league history, behind the bench for his 2,165th career game, Tampa Bay put forth a defensive effort the Lightning defensive coach could be proud of.

The Lightning picked up a massive point against the top team in the Western Conference, dropping a 2-1 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got the start despite Ben Bishop pitching the shutout in the last game, was the difference in securing the point for Tampa Bay, stopping 37 shots. Only Mikko Koivu was able to beat Vasilevskiy in the shootout and prevent the Lightning from stealing the second point.

The Lightning were denied a three-game winning streak, which hasn’t happed since November, but have points in three consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 28-31. Tampa Bay has a chance to get points in four consecutive games, which would be the longest such streak since Nov. 14-19

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Bishop blanks Kings as Lightning roll, hoping this gets them on a roll

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 7, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Tuesday was a big Five-Oh.

Not just the birthday for Lightning anthem singer Sonya Bryson, but the margin of victory for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Los Angeles Kings, matching their largest margin in a win on the season.

Ben Bishop stopped all 28 shots for his first shutout of the season, 19th of his career and first in the regular season since March 28, 2016.

”It's nice. It's been a while,’’ Bishop said. “I'll definitely take it.’’

Nikita Kucherov scored twice, Vladislav Namestnikov had a pair of assists while Gabriel Dumont scored his first NHL goal since April 17, 2013, while he was with the Montreal Canadiens.

Jonathan Drouin added a goal an assist and Braydon Coburn scored his second of the season as Tampa Bay has won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 20-22.

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Even in dominating fashion, Tampa Bay Lightning make it hard on themselves

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 4, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – There was almost a sense of a wiped brow of relief coming out of the Lightning locker room on Saturday.

In the worst way, Tampa Bay needed a victory. It should have come easy against the Anaheim Ducks. The result should never have been in doubt.

The Lightning played that well.

Yet, it took a dramatic turnaround in the shootout to help Tampa Bay secure an important victory, triumphant 3-2 over the Ducks in a game that never should have been extended past regulation.

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As the Lightning losses continue to mount, has it become an accepted part of the season?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 2, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – Defeated.

It was the result at the end of another Tampa Bay game, a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in what turned out to be a triumphant return to town for Guy Boucher.


The look of a Lightning team that has just one victory in the past seven games. The look of a team continuing to fall deeper and deeper in to a lost season with no hope of a rescue coming on the horizon.

It’s the look of the team that was on the ice for the final period of Thursday’s game. And very appropriate that on Groundhog Day, it was a similar result because it feels like the Lightning are reliving the same game over, and over, and over, and . . .

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Tampa Bay Lightning fall apart late in second, fall to Bruins 4-3

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 31, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. – In the span of two minutes, the Lightning’s season flashed before their collective eyes.

It’s like that moment in a movie sequence where a glowing light appears and all the memories of the good times from the past come rushing by like a dream just before that light shines brightly from above and a lifeless body starts an ascent up toward the sky as the light starts to fade out.

That’s exactly how it felt for a Tampa Bay team that needed to find a way to get the post All-Star break schedule off on the right foot, only to potentially see the season come to an unofficial end following a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at Amalie Arena.

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Mediocrity is a four-letter word that describes Tampa Bay Lightning heading to All-Star break

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 26, 2017

Sunrise, Fla. – Mediocre.

In the NHL, it might as well be a four-letter word.

Middle of the road teams tend to sit well below the middle of the pack.

As the Lightning head in to the All-Star break, that’s exactly what they are, holding a 20-20-6 record with 50 points in 50 games. After Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay enters the break sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, which has plenty of others muttering a different kind of four-letter word thinking about the Lightning playoff chances.

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Tampa Bay Lightning pick up sensible victory in a season that's made little sense

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 24, 2017

Very little makes sense in this Tampa Bay Lightning season.

It didn’t make sense that Tampa Bay entered Game No. 49 of the season sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference. It didn’t make sense that while sitting in 16th place in the conference, the Lightning still were within striking distance of a playoff spot.

So it only seemed fitting, in a season that has made little sense to this point, that Tampa Bay skated out of the United Center with a 5-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks, improving to 8-0-2 in the past 10 regular season meetings between the teams.

And the Lightning did it in a manner that no team has done to Chicago in more than three seasons.

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Tampa Bay Lightning hit a new low point in a season full of them

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 21, 2017

Winter is coming for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This hockey team looks too much like a castoff group of Wildings knowing the White Walkers are descending upon them. Hope is all but lost.

It’s time to abandon the village and head for hiding. The final fire was put out with Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the 29th ranked in the league – the Arizona Coyotes.

A loss that drops Tampa Bay to eighth place in the Atlantic Division standings and one point ahead of the New York Islanders, who currently occupy last place in the Eastern Conference with three games in hand.

With that sort of reality setting in, perhaps winter is already here and the time for change is now.

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Tampa Bay Lightning have improved their ying, but forgot about the yang

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 19, 2017

Defensive hockey tends to be winning hockey.

Unless, of course, it means no offense.

That’s where the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves right now, caught right in that vortex between those two opposing forces. You can’t win if you give up too many goals, but you won’t win if you don’t start scoring some.

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Like a certain Batman villain, Tampa Bay Lightning show two sides in Anaheim

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 17, 2017

Like a good Batman villain, there were two sides to Tampa Bay’s showing in Anaheim on Tuesday.

On one flip of the coin, praise for the strong effort is well deserved after enduring a physical encounter in Los Angeles the day before and playing the second consecutive day without top defenseman Victor Hedman, still out with an illness.

When the coin flips again, however, it lands on the opposite side, the one that shows the less attractive side. The side where the warts stand out.

All of this coming in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ducks at Honda Center.

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Bishop plus gritty team effort lift Tampa Bay Lightning to victory

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 16, 2017

Déjà vu, all over again.

The Tampa Bay Lightning started another game missing a key player as a surprise scratch. Then, once again, a strong start was negated after a mistake led to the opening goal against on the opposing team’s first shot of the game.

Certainly that’s not the ideal way to try and start off a critical six-game road trip.

But, in a different sort of déjà vu, the Lightning looked like the team that has played deep in to the postseason the past two seasons, with the same defensive mindset that has brought the team success.

In the end, the Lightning started off an important six-game road trip with a well-earned 2-1 victory against Los Angeles at Staples Center in a holiday matinee.

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Tampa Bay Lightning fail to end emotional night on a high note

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 13, 2017

Tampa, Fla. - The night was electric. The scene was set.

The Lightning had all the fuel they needed to start a strong surge after an emotional and stirring pregame ceremony to retire the jersey of former captain Marty St. Louis.

For the opening 20 minutes, it was the right jolt of energy. But it fizzled out once again as the Lightning found themselves back in the loss column after a 3-1 setback to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

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Ben Bishop returns as Tampa Bay Lightning beat Buffalo 4-2

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 12, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - With one outlet pass from behind his own net to spring the Tampa Bay Lightning transition game, goaltender Ben Bishop showed what sort of an impact he can have. And why his three-week absence was felt.

Bishop returned to the net on Thursday, playing a big part in a 4-2 victory against Buffalo and snap the Lightning’s four-game losing streak. Bishop finished with 24 saves to earn his 10th victory of the season and improve to 10-0-1 all-time against the Sabres.

Ondrej Palat, who lost some teeth during practice on Tuesday, scored twice and added an assist to lead the offense. Nikita Kucherov and Anton Stralman also scored to help the Lightning avoid their first five-game losing streak in regulation since Feb. 24 – March 3, 2013.

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Tampa Bay Lightning defense torched again, adding fuel to growing fire

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 8, 2017

Sunday’s matinee showed more spark from the Lightning than the day before. But it ignited next to nothing.

Instead it only added fuel to a growing fire surrounding this hockey team, one predicted by some publications to be crowned Stanley Cup champion this season.

One game in to the start of the second half of the season, Tampa Bay sits four points from the cellar in the Eastern Conference. And yet, amazingly, just two points out of a playoff spot.

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Tampa Bay Lightning again show little passion in loss to Flyers


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 7, 2017

The Lightning hit the halfway point of the season Saturday.

The only thing it really symbolized, however, is the team is halfway to a disastrous season the wind up costing some members of the organization losing their jobs. That's the only result that will come if Tampa Bay keeps putting up results like happened on Saturday.

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The time for changes may be at hand for Lightning


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 5, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - The time has come.

That big red panic button that I've cautioned many fans to keep nearby, but not press - it's time to press it.

The Lightning are in trouble and there is no sign of a rescue on the horizon.

Changes are needed. And they need to come soon.

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Lightning filled with false hope in loss to Jets


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 3, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - False hope.

The Lightning filled the building with plenty of it on Tuesday. It was all over the ice.

Same could be said for how Tampa Bay played in the second period - all over the ice. That's not a compliment.

Even when the Lightning pulled close late in the third period, it was all just false hope.

More efforts like Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets and the season will end the same way - with false hope.

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Lightning find efficient way to close out 2016


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 31, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. - Not quite a Dali, not exactly a Rembrandt.

More like an efficient portrait using efficient strokes, even if it meant coloring outside the lines a few times.

That's how Tampa Bay closed out the 2016 calendar year, facing the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year's Eve.

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One night later, a track meet the Lightning don't quite match


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 29, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. - Imagine one night setting up a maze and telling somebody to find the right path through to find the end.

Now, invite that team back the next night, change the course around and ask them to sprint from the start to find the same path.

That was the Lightning's challenge, squaring off against a swift Toronto Maple Leafs squad less than 24 hours after solving the systematic style of the Montreal Canadiens.

Predictably, the second course was more difficult to carve through, hitting wall after wall along the way.

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Lightning find right injection to serve as remedy in comeback victory


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 28, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. - Looking for an injection, the Lightning turned to a potent combination to serve as a cure for what ails them.

Tampa Bay's season turned south during a rash of injuries from the middle of November right up until the break for Christmas.

And with the season looking a bit more grimace, the return of Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov along with the reuniting of the Triplet line proved to be the right kind of remedy to complete a comeback victory.

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Lightning lose more than the game in Washington


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 23, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. - Somebody must have replaced the mistletoe hanging around the Lightning locker room with voodoo dolls because Tampa Bay has been kissed hard by the injury bug during the holiday season.

Friday's 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center was not the toughest setback of the night for Tampa Bay.

A Lightning lineup already wrought with missing players added at least two more names to the list.

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Lightning rally for five unanswered goals for 2nd straight win


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 22, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. -Sometimes it's not about the results, but the process.

The situation the Lightning find themselves in, however, demand results.

Finally, some of those results are coming for Tampa Bay through the result of the process.

The Lightning scored five unanswered goals to rally and beat St. Louis 5-2 on Thursday at Amalie Arena and have won consecutive games for the first time in more than a month.

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It's just one game, but Lightning have plenty to build from


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 20, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. -Repeat after me - it's just one game.

One game does not make or break a season, nor can one game be considered the turning point at the moment it happens.

But there was a lot to like about the one game the Tampa Bay Lightning played on Tuesday, knocking off Detroit 4-1 at Amalie Arena to start an important stretch of games that could make or break the season.

Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point each had a goal and an assist, while Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the victory, stopping 22 shots in relief of Ben Bishop, left with an injury in the first period.

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Two ways to view Lighting shootout loss to Oilers


by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 17, 2016

The current state of affairs around the Lightning can be viewed one of two ways.

With two wins in the past in the past 11 games, some see it as time to stomp, kick and scream while looking up and crying out "The Sky is Falling''

Or, things can be viewed from a different approach that sees the foundation still in place, even if a handful of cracks are showing signs of a weakened structure.

Perhaps, as the first two-plus months of the season have gone, there were signs of both coming out of Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss at Edmonton.

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