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Mauled in Minny

October 26, 2014, 1:28 AM ET [42 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
After beating the Winnipeg Jets and securing two points just one night earlier, the Tampa Bay Lightning were absolutely mauled by the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The injury depleted Bolts were outplayed and ultimately outscored, as they dropped an embarrassing 7-2 decision.

While the following photo wasn’t snapped during Saturday’s game, it accurately depicts the reaction of Bolts Nation during and after. I’ll let Jon Cooper do the rest of the talking:

A lineup that featured many players who could and should be playing in the American Hockey League wasn’t good enough to beat one of the Western Conference’s best and most underrated squads. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even so, it was still disappointing.

Any thought that the Lightning might have a chance in the game was quickly put to rest, as the Wild got on the board early and often. Just 7:37 into the first period, Marco Scandella walked around Matt Carle and poked the puck past Evgeni Nabokov to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. Only 40 seconds later, Mikko Koivu scored to extend the Minnesota lead to two.

Anton Stralman briefly cut the deficit to one when he found himself in front of the Wild net and popped the puck past Darcy Kuemper. A lone bright spot on an otherwise dark night, Stralman continues to impress in a Lightning uniform. His presence as a top tier defender is being felt whenever Tampa takes to the ice.

From that point on, it was all Wild. Eric Haula and Jason Zucker scored goals in the latter half of the opening frame to make it 4-1 Minnesota heading into the first intermission. That was enough for Cooper to pull Nabokov, who gave up four goals on eight (!) shots. The defense in front of him was bad, but some of the goals he gave up were just plain stinky.

Things didn’t get any better with Bishop in net, as Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored to widen the gap to 6-1. Any hope of a comeback was squarely squashed. A late second period goal from Nikita Kucherov wasn’t enough to change that fact.

Zucker scored a shorthanded garbage time goal to make it a 7-2 game, and that’s exactly how things stood when the final buzzer rang. Embarrassing? Sure. Devastating? I’m not so sure. One game out of 82 isn’t going to hurt this team.

While they did manage to secure six out of a possible ten points on this Western road swing, it’s hard not to be disappointed with how the Bolts performed. The eked out wins in Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg, but dropped tilts in both Edmonton and Minnesota. We can sit here and blame injuries or the schedule or the time change or whatever else, but the reality is that this team will need to be better moving forward. Thankfully, there’s no doubt in this blogger’s mind that it can be.

As always, thanks for reading.

Michael Stuart has been the Tampa Bay Lightning writer for HockeyBuzz since 2012. Visit his archive to read more or follow him on Twitter.
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