Coming off a tough shootout loss in the desert Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to rebound Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, a sloppy first 20 minutes proved to be fatal in a 5-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The fourth line consisting of Corey Perry, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, was noticeable all game long. They accounted for three of the Lightning’s four goals, including the game-opening goal by Namestnikov six minutes into the first period. He took a pass from Perry and tucked the puck past Golden Knights netminder Adin Hill for a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t last long. The Golden Knights struck back on the ensuing opening face-off, with former Bolt draft pick Brett Howden beating Andrei Vasilevskiy’s back door to tie things at one.
Less than 30 seconds later, Nicolas Roy was called for hooking. Captain Steven Stamkos fired a bullet that Hill couldn’t save, giving the Lightning a 2-1 lead. That was their first power-play goal in the past nine road games.
With the way the first had gone, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Vegas struck back quickly once again. This time, former Bolt Jonathan Marchessault came back to haunt his former mates by tying the game at two apiece.
From there, things settled down for a bit. The tie was broken with about six minutes remaining in the first, as Shea Theodore tipped a Reilly Smith shot through Vasilevskiy’s five-hole to make it 3-2 Golden Knights.
Nearly three and a half minutes later, Marchessault batted the puck down and then tucked it behind Vasilevskiy to give the Golden Knights a two-goal cushion. The Bolts challenged for a missed game stoppage but lost.
The second period was better for the Lightning, as they spent more time in the offensive zone and tightened up defensively. They finally got rewarded, with Perry tipping Victor Hedman’s shot from the point past Hill to make it 4-3.
Entering the third down a goal, the Lightning should have been firing everything at Hill. Instead, they seemed content playing tentatively, and it showed in their measly five shots on goal.
Roy put this game out of reach at 5-3 with an empty netter after Hedman coughed up the puck entering the offensive zone.
Bellemare redirected a Mikhail Sergachev shot past Hill with 11 seconds remaining, but that was too little too late in a 5-4 loss to the Golden Knights.
With five of a possible eight points in hand, the Lightning head home, where they play 10 of their next 14 games inside the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. That starts Tuesday night, February 21, versus the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is set for 7 pm EST.