Undermanned Lightning can’t pull a miracle in Sunrise.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed five goals on 35 shots for the loss. He wasn’t sharp tonight, and I thought the semi-soft goal he allowed in the First Period really took the wind out of the team’s sails.
11:44 FLA Wennberg (14), (Forsling, Weegar)
3:07 FLA Bennett (10), (Barkov, Huberdeau)(PP)
4:52 TB Schenn (2), (Gourde, Goodrow)
12:54 FLA Wennberg (15), (Vatrano)
14:53 FLA Huberdeau (20), (Bennett)
13:38 FLA Wennberg (16), (Tippett, Forsling)
The Lightning announced just before puck drop they were scratching Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Jan Rutta to go along with the long term injuries being carried to Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Strategically, it made sense. McDonagh took a knock in last night’s game, Rutta is coming off an injury, and Hedman has probably been carrying an injury for at least a month now. On the back end of a back-to-back it was probably the smart call to rest all three. The Lightning can still get home ice in the first round with a regulation win in the finale on Monday, after all. But, it really put the team behind the eight ball tonight and the buzzard’s luck didn’t stop with the injuries. Between the semi-soft first goal and the bizarre flukey third goal for Florida, I’d say the score doesn’t really reflect how the Lightning played the first 40 minutes tonight. They were scrappy and physical and this was a lot more even that the scoreboard reflects. But, psychologically, I sure do hate giving oxygen to the Panthers’ belief going into a playoff series against them where they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain trying to knock off big brother.
Ben Thomas had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 14:07. He’s a free agent this offseason, and a depth guy the Lightning might do well to keep around. He’s done nothing to dishonor himself in his NHL time this season.
Mitchell Stephens was -1 with 1 hit in 8:18. He was also 58% on 12 draws.
Ross Colton had 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:55 as he spotted on the wing for part of this game on a scoring line. He was also 50% on 2 draws.
Heading into the regular season finale, no prospects will graduate from prospect status this season. Cal Foote got the closest, likely finishing 6 appearances shy of graduation.