GLENDALE, Ariz. – Not only had the Tampa Bay Lightning won two straight games since the absence of Steven Stamkos, they played two of the soundest games of the season. They were also a perfect 7-0-0 against the Western Conference.
However, the Bolts saw both those streaks come to an end Saturday night in a 6-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Finding themselves down early, Tampa Bay never quite recovered throughout the remainder of the game. Unable to score their first marker until 36 minutes had past in regulation, the Lightning had a number of good opportunities in the second half and started to gain steam, but were unable to capitalize in their sixth loss of the season.
It took a span of 57 seconds at the end of the first period for the Coyotes to put momentum in their favor with a 2-0 lead. On the Bolts first penalty kill, Martin Hanzal screened Bishop and Michael Stone took a shot from the point, which found its way to the back of the net for a 1-0 score at 15:58of the first on the man advantage. Hanzal was a factor again on the next goal, after a shot from behind the net that hit Bishop’s skate glided over the goal line for a 2-0 score at 16:55. Phoenix also led the Lightning in shots 11-4 at the end of the opening frame.
Phoenix added another power-play goal less than two minutes into the middle period. Scrambling for the puck in front of Bishop, Mike Ribeiro managed to pick up the lose puck and snag it by the Lightning goalie for a 3-0 lead. It was the first time Tampa Bay allowed multiple power-play goals since October 12 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bishop exited the game after taking a shot off of the right side of his collarbone when Phoenix took the three-goal lead and immediately headed to the Lightning dressing room. Bishop did return to the bench though by the end of the period.
The Lightning then added their first goal of the game as a Bolts power play expired at the end of the second period. Tyler Johnson sent a pass to Richard Panik, who wristed shot top shelf on Smith from the right face-off circle, to cut the lead to 3-1 with 16:19 left in the second.
Before the end of the second the Coyotes Connor Murphy and the Bolts J.T. Brown exchange their first career NHL goals 50 seconds a part. Yet the Lightning trailed 4-2 at the end of 40 minutes of play, as Phoenix added another pair of goals. They extended their lead to 5-2 when Shane Doan added a tally from down the slot at 1:37 of the third.
Martin St. Louis then had an ample opportunity to score with a wide-open net, which would have brought the Bolts within two with a little less than six minutes remaining, but missed wide. It would have been the perfect opportunity for a comeback too, as Alex Killorn added his first of the game with the extra attacker on the ice and a pulled goalie. However, Phoenix added their sixth goal of the game with an empty net shot and 18 seconds remaining in the contest for a 6-3 final.
UP NEXT – With two days off between their next tilt, the Lightning then continue their four-game tour of the West Coast with their second of two meetings against the Los Angeles Kings at Staple Center Tuesday. Tampa Bay will then face the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks soon after, before returning to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for three games Thanksgiving week.
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