Tampa Bay Fla. (CBS) The Tampa Bay Lightning battled until the end Monday night to try and overcome an early deficit, but the New Jersey Devils held on to win 5-4 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Bay has lost seven of its last eight games, and during this span the bolts have encountered a heap of problems. Turnovers, soft goaltending, failed power plays and an overall lack of intensity has sent the Lightning plummeting to the bottom of the Southeast division.
Last night wasn’t any different. The Devils took an early lead when Petr Sykora scored on the first shot of the game 28 seconds into the first period to make it 1-0. Dainius Zubrus added to the lead with a tip-in five minutes later to put New Jersey up 2-0.
Urgency set in for the bolts, and goals from Steve Downie and Blair Jones within an 80-second span in the first allowed the bolts to keep pace with the Devils. It was Downie’s fourth goal of the season, and Jones’ first of the year.
If the two late period goals were an indication of good things to come for the Lightning, their second period performance proved otherwise. Dwayne Roloson was pulled from net after allowing three goals on 12 shots, and Mathieu Garon entered the game in relief and stopped eight of the 10 shots he faced.
New Jersey scored three unanswered goals in the second period, including a goal from Zach Parise for his ninth of the year. Parise alone had a goal and two assists in the second.
Johan Hedburg faced an onslaught of shots during four Lightning power plays, but the bolts were unable to score again until Steven Stamkos netted a goal almost 10 minutes into the third period. Stamkos scored his second goal of the night at 19:26 into the third, but by then it was too late.
With 37 shots on net against New Jersey’s 22, the bolts undoubtedly had the chances but failed to put the goals away. Self inflicted errors are also a culprit in the Lightning’s troubles, and if Guy Boucher can’t rally his team to victory then somebody else needs to. The Lightning have the talent, but the chemistry isn’t there.