It was two very different performances with two different outcomes for the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Monday (Nov. 28), they did not play their best game of the season by far but were able to scratch out a 6-5 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Then in a rematch with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night (Nov. 29), the Bolts played much better but could not defeat the team with the best record in the NHL, losing by a score of 3-1.
Winning in Boston has been impossible for any team this season, as the Bruins are now 13-0-0 on their home ice. It’s one thing to fall behind and come back for the victory against a solid but not spectacular Sabres squad. It’s a very different story when you fall behind the team with the best record in the league, which happened right out of the gate when the Bruins’ Taylor Hall deflected a shot to give them a 1-0 lead at just 1:03 into the game. Head coach Jon Cooper said after the game, “We want to win games. We held them to two goals. [the third goal was an empty netter] Probably a little bit of a positive is it was a better showing maybe than we did at home, but in the end, we didn’t get it done.” Cooper knows that moral victories do not give you two points in the standings.
Special Teams Disparity
One of the areas that the Lightning have improved upon is not taking unnecessary penalties. On Monday against the Sabres, they allowed only one power play, which they killed off successfully. On Tuesday, they also allowed just one power play on a Nick Perbix tripping penalty, but the red-hot Bruins were able to capitalize on that chance, which irritated Cooper quite a bit. “It’s a tie game in the third period, and you come in here, and you want to take penalties against Boston and can’t kill off one penalty. Shame on us.”
On the flip side, the Lightning did well on their power play against the Sabres, scoring on three of their four opportunities. Tuesday’s power play was successful on their only opportunity, as they scored their only goal of the game on a Steven Stamkos tally. Nikita Kucherov picked up an assist, adding to the three power-play assists he picked up against the Sabres, despite drawing the ire of the Sabres fanbase. Apparently, they felt that the Lightning assistant captain embellished a high-sticking call by Mattias Samuelsson.
Additional Storyline From the Bruins Game
In addition to the frustration and disappointment from the loss, the Lightning and Pat Maroon faced some inappropriate comments made by the Bruins’ NESN play-by-play man, Jack Edwards. To recap, the former ESPN anchor stated that Maroon was heavier than his 238 pounds listed in pre-season, stating, “that was Day 1 of training camp. I have the feeling he’s had a few more pizzas between then and now.” On top of that, broadcast partner and color analyst Andy Brickley felt the need to chime in by saying, “and that was before pregame” (from ‘Lightning’s Pat Maroon punches back at Boston broadcaster’s comments about his weight’, Tampa Bay Times, Nov. 30, 2022). Inexcusable comments made by anybody, especially on live TV.
Latest News & Highlights
Ever the classy person, Maroon chose to take the high road, as many in the NHL media made comments condemning Edwards. On Wednesday afternoon, his response came when he took to Twitter to announce, “In support of those struggling with mental health, bullying and body image I am making a $2,000 donation in the name of @RealJackEdwards to @TampaBayThrives, and I encourage @TBLightning and @NHL fans to join me.” I encourage you to donate, if you can, at tampabaylightning.com/donate. In addition to a great deal of support from many fans, the Carolina Hurricanes also encouraged their fans to donate to support Maroon.
Lightning Milestones Almost Reached
Lost in the shuffle of the games and the inappropriate comments about Maroon is that Stamkos is nearing a milestone. His goal against the Bruins was the 999th point and 494th goal of the 32-year-old’s career. He has been playing outstanding hockey of late, as he extended his season-long point streak to eight games with the goal. He has scored 14 points during that eight-game span, with six goals and eight helpers.
Kucherov’s four assists over the last two games bring him up to 25 for the season, the most in the NHL. He has had seven assists over his last three games. Brayden Point also extended his point streak to three games as he has picked up four goals and two assists for six points during the three-game streak. These are just three examples of players who have made significant contributions during the month of November, leading the Lightning to a record of 9-4-1 for the month.
Even without accepting moral victories, there are still many positives that the Lightning should take out of the Bruins game and the success they had for the month of November. They have solved many of the issues that plagued them during the early part of the season and are starting to look like a team that could find themselves in a Stanley Cup Final again in 2023. After one more game on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (Dec. 1), they return home for six straight contests at AMALIE Arena, where they will try and build on their recent success.
Jim Bay writes about the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators for THW. A retired Special Education Teacher, Jim enjoys writing about hockey and all sports when he is not slashing his way around local golf courses. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/baysports007)