TAMPA – Who said a scoreless game isn’t entertaining?
“We played a couple of scoreless games the past week that were outstanding,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “I didn’t see anybody running for the exits because there were no goals.”
Indeed, nobody headed home Thursday night until Brayden Schenn’s goal with 59 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the St. Louis Blues to 1-0 victory over the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay was on the winning side of 1-0 shootout at the Islanders last Friday night.
Schenn, whose goal came on the Blues’ only shot of overtime, caught up to a Colton Parayko zone clear in the attacking left circle and wristed a shot that Andrei Vasilevskiy got a piece of, but trickled behind him.
“That’s a good hockey team that we went toe-to-toe with,” said Cooper, whose team has lost two in a row at home for the first time this season, though also managed a point in a 3-2 shootout defeat at the hands of Vegas on Tuesday night. “There’s not a whole lot to complain about.”
Lightning fans may have been getting antsy, though, as their team seemed to be playing catch-up through much of the first two periods in terms of play. Tampa Bay was outshot in the opening period 15-8 with a dozen Blues recording at least one shot, but Vasilevskiy came up a few 10-bell saves to keep it scoreless.
“I thought we had a bit of a slow start as far as playing with the pace we wanted to,” said Ryan McDonagh. “Give them credit. They played a smart road period to start the game.”
The shot advantage grew to 22-8 about four minutes into the second period, which is about the time the Lightning had to kill three straight penalties that were called within a span of 5:25.
St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington (8-1-1) was untested until Anthony Cirelli streaked down the left wing on the first shorthanded stint and unleashed a wrister that hit the rookie netminder in his right shoulder.
On the second kill Nikita Kucherov wristed a shot from the high slot that ticked off Binnington’s glove and off the crossbar. McDonagh, when helping kill the third penalty, had an opportunity when he skated alone into the slot and blasted a shot that missed the net.
“It has (provided) a great momentum swing for us,” said McDonagh of the penalty kill. “Especially tonight you could see our relentless pressure up the ice and it kind of got our team going again as the game went along.”
The Lightning outshot the Blues 11-6 in the third period and had the first six shots of overtime before Schenn drove another sellout crowd to the exits.
“We got better as the game went on and both goalies played really well,” said Cooper. “The first half of the game we didn’t have the killer instinct like second half of the game.”
The Lightning are now 12-1-1 following a defeat and it was Vasilevskiy’s first such loss this season after nine wins.