Quick Strikes: Consistency Remains an Issue, Vasilevskiy Continues Heating Up & Stamkos’ First Career Four-Goal Game

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning
Photo Credit: Steve Nesius/AP

Fresh off of another good week, collecting six of a possible eight points, the Tampa Bay Lightning trekked into Western Canada hoping to find some consistency in their game.

Unfortunately, that didn’t occur. An early goal by Brayden Point didn’t hold up, with Brock Boeser notching a hat trick in a loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Two nights later, the Lightning blew a two goal lead to the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers to find themselves trailing by one after 40 minutes.

Enter Steven Stamkos. The Lightning captain, fully recovered from an illness that kept him out of the game in Seattle on December 9, scored three goals in the third period for his first career four-goal game. That was a differencemaker in the team’s 7-4 comeback win.

Andrei Vasilevskiy continued his strong play in net, making 53 saves on 57 shots. That performance gave him sole possession of the top three spots in Lightning history, surpassing Ben Bishop’s 48-save performance on January 19, 2014, against the Carolina Hurricanes. For a guy that had back surgery nearly three months ago, that’s impressive and a great thing to see heading into the New Year.

Defensive breakdowns in the middle frame were the story of Tampa Bay’s 4-2 setback to the Calgary Flames that ended a season-high 11-day road trip.

It all started with A.J. Greer beating Vasilevskiy two and a half minutes into the second, giving the Flames an early lead. A few minutes later, Calgary scored two goals less than a minute apart, and the Bolts found themselves in a hole. They cut the lead to one in the third period, but a goal from a bad angle squashed all momentum.

Victor Hedman touched on the Lightning’s second-period woes in this particular game during his postgame media availability, saying the team needs to get back to playing the right way. He then added that the team needs to be better as a whole.

That echoes the sentiments of many who follow this team. Minor breakdowns in the defensive structure end up costing this team wins, as the puck ends up in the back of their net more often than not. The solution is simple. Instead of trying to make the fancy pass, it’s best to keep things simple. Chip the puck out and then go after it. That’s the recipe for winning hockey, something the Lightning have made a living off of for years.

Getting two of six points is better than nothing, but for a team that’s currently in a dogfight with a number of other teams for two Wild Card spots approaching the Christmas break, it’s not good enough. Yes, the top three teams in each division automatically make the postseason, but Tampa Bay is five points back of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers for second and third in the Atlantic Division. They’re 10 points behind the division-leading Boston Bruins, so catching them will be a tall task.

Can the Lightning find consistency in their game? While unknown, their playoff hopes ride on finding a way to get enough points to sneak into the postseason.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Lauren Burg

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer for “Inside the Rink.” A lifelong Tampa Bay Area resident, she graduated from the University of South Florida’s world-renowned journalism program in December 2009. While in college, she discovered hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning. She quickly became a passionate fan, attending many games over the years. She also experienced an All-Star game in 2018, numerous road games, and, most recently, the Bolts back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Since graduating college, she’s been working hard to combine her two loves, writing and hockey, hoping to one day make that her full-time career. In her free time, she enjoys attending sporting events (both home & road when possible), taking photos, and traveling.

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