The Backcheck: Bolts lose consecutive games
The lost their second straight game on Thursday, falling to the New York Islanders 6-2 at UBS Arena, following their 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in their opening game following the All-Star break.
At 4:07 of the first period, Noah Dobson scored the Islanders’ seventh goal of the season, putting them ahead. The puck deflected off Erik Cernak’s skate in front of the net and went to give New York a 1-0 lead after Dobson attempted to pass to Oliver Wahlstrom at the back door.
Despite the early setback, Nikita Kucherov’s goal, his 33rd of the season, and his NHL-high point total of 87 seconds later gave the Bolts the answer. With 13:18 left in the first half, Kucherov, receiving a pass from Darren Raddysh, struck a one-timer that bounced off an Islanders defender and went past Ilya Sorokin to tie the score at one.
With 5:53 left in the first period, Bo Horvat won a faceoff in the offensive zone and then passed to Mat Barzal, who scored a backhand goal past Johansson’s outstretched blocker to tie the score 2-1. It was Barzal’s 15th goal of the season.
With 1:25 left in the first period, Kyle Palmieri found a soft spot in the offensive zone and fired a quick one-timer past Jonas Johansson, to put New York up 3-1 and send the Bolts to the first intermission trailing by two goals. It appeared as though the Lightning would go to the locker room trailing by one after 20 minutes.
With Scott Mayfield in the penalty box for tripping, Tampa Bay came out of the second quarter with some momentum and pulled within one goal at 1:14. Victor Hedman sent a stretch pass up the ice to Anthony Cirelli, who drove the net and fired a low shot on goal. Sorokin stopped the rebound, and Brandon Hagel beat him for his 18th goal of the year to tie the score at three.
A short while later, with the Lightning on the penalty kill, Ryan Pulock beat Johansson with a shot through traffic to increase the Islanders’ lead to 4-2 with 12:50 left in the second period.
Horvat scored his 21st goal of the season just 1:08 later after receiving a pass from Barzal and taking aim just above the top of the circles. This goal made the score 5-2.
For New York, a 6-2 victory was sealed with a goal from Casey Cizikas with 4:38 left in the second half.
By the Numbers, Bolts
– Nikita Kucherov increased his season point total to 87 with his 33rd goal of the year. In the last six games (5-7–12), the All-Star winger has found the scoresheet.
– Brandon Hagel now has 45 points for the season (18-27—45) after scoring his 18th goal of the year. Hagel’s point streak reached five games (5-2—7) with the goal, one game short of tying his career-long mark.
– As Hagel’s secondary assister, Victor Hedman recorded his 42nd assist and 51st point of the year. In his last nine games, he has a point in seven of them (3-9—12).
– Darren Raddysh, who has 19 points in the season (4–15–19), received the lone assist on Kucherov’s goal.
– Anthony Cirelli increased his season point total to 26 (10-16—26) by recording the primary assist on Hagel’s goal.
Jon Cooper: “Let’s be straightforward. I believe we took a ten-day break. We return [with] a few practices. We have two games in a row. I’m not happy with how we’ve recovered from this break. We’ve appeared sluggish, but I thought we had a little more left in us to make sure we were prepared. We appeared ill-prepared. We appear to have taken a ten-day break. We will need to play games to earn our way back into the position we now occupy, having worked so hard to get there. That simply isn’t how you can accomplish it. I wholeheartedly concur with the break. Simply put, I don’t think we handled it well.
– Brandon Hagel: “On the road, we need to improve.” That, in my opinion, is a significant issue that we haven’t been able to resolve this year. Naturally, everyone is aware of our abilities and how good we are when we are at home. But you have to win away from home if you want to qualify for and advance through the playoffs. I believe we discussed it. The way the playoffs seem to be starting right now is definitely not how we intended to begin.
Cooper: “It was disappointing that we didn’t have the perfect first period, to be honest. However, the final score is 3-2. We made contact with the post. We are engulfed in them. It might be 3-3. After taking the penalty and being unable to escape, the score was 4-2 and things kind of went south from there. just not making a strong enough defense. Giving up six goals after two periods is not going to win you in this league, so you have to do that. We didn’t play great 5-on-5 defense tonight, but we did play great defense when we were killing penalties. Here, they are a hungry team. After their break, they won big on the road, most likely put in a few solid practices, and they accepted it.