Skip to content

And then there were 15: Lightning eliminated

Apr 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

Steven Stamkos, AP

For more entries in this series, click here.

If you look at sports from a purely narrative standpoint, the goal that eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning fit into the story perfectly.

Capping off a season full of adversity and tough breaks for the Bolts, the Montreal Canadiens received a highly questionable power play with a little more than two minutes left, and Max Pacioretty scored the deciding goal that clinched a first-round sweep.

Though luck haunted the Lightning during a season full of nightmarish breaks, but it all became too much in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Games 3 and 4 really spotlighted this series of tough times, as there was almost a “What will happen next?” feel — from a goal being disallowed and Steven Stamkos getting banged up in Game 3, to a gut-punch loss in Game 4.

With no Ben Bishop in the entire series and a struggling Anders Lindback pulled in the second period of tonight’s affair, Kristers Gudlevskis played masterfully and the Lightning showed resilience in storming back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up in the third period. Officials decided not to call Rene Bourque for what many believed was a clear goalie interference call, setting the stage for Cedric Paquette‘s third-period penalty and that game-clincher.

That said, it’s unfair to rob the Canadiens credit for sweeping the Lightning. They generally and sometimes glaringly out-played the Bolts for large portions of this series. The bottom line is that Montreal performed at a higher level through significant chunks of this sweep and deserved it (maybe in four games).

Still, the Lightning probably wrestle with gnawing “What if?” questions about their goalies, officiating and injuries.

The bottom line is that they’ll have a long offseason for soul-searching, as they are the first playoff team to be eliminated in 2014. On the bright side, it seems that there are also bright sides to look on:

Latest Posts
  1. Larry Robinson has an … interesting take on Sharks captaincy

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    Phoenix Coyotes v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    “We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”

  2. Can Kyle Okposo maintain momentum from his breakout year?

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    New York Islanders v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    Despite missing 11 games, he set many career-high numbers.

  3. Jets’ Maurice adjusting to life in Winnipeg

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

    Paul Maurice AP

    Spent the summer relocating his family to the Manitoba capital.

  4. Report: Leiweke to head up Olympic bid in Los Angeles

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

    Tim Leiweke Getty Images

    Speculation on MLSE President & CEO’s next move.

  5. Looking to make the leap: Griffin Reinhart

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT

    GriffinReinhart Getty Images

    Disappointed with demotion last season, 20-year-old will get another shot in September.

  6. Under Pressure: Garth Snow

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Garth Snow Getty Images

    Has to get his team on the winning track.

  7. Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist shows off tennis skills

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images

    Helps friend raise awareness at charity event.

  8. Report: Bruins need to make a trade

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    toreykruggetty Getty Images

    Excess of defensemen has GM Peter Chiarelli in a bind.

  9. In praise of John Tavares

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Chad Johnson AP

    At 23 years old, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.

  10. Sakic on RFA Barrie: ‘I’m confident he’ll be here’

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Tyson Barrie Getty Images

    He’s the last free agent for the Avs to re-sign.

  11. It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Travis Hamonic, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares Getty Images

    They came back to the pack hard last season.

  12. Sabres’ Larsson says he’s proven what he can in AHL

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Johan Larsson Getty Images

    He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.

  13. NHLers hold charity games in Slovakia honoring Pavol Demitra

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Pavol Demitra Getty Images

    He died in the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in 2011.

  14. McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Connor McDavid Getty Images

    The NHL changed the process for the Draft Lottery on Wednesday.

  15. It’s all on Crosby, Malkin to make it work in Pittsburgh

    Aug 21, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen AP

    We know it’s not surprising, but just go along with it.

  16. Sakic on Giguere: ‘His achievements speak for themselves’

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Jean-Sebastien Giguere AP

    A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.

  17. Poll: Who makes up for James Neal’s goals in Pittsburgh?

    Aug 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin AP

    No one scored more Pens goals than he did the past three seasons.

  18. Agent: Bryzgalov ‘loved’ Minnesota, really wants to return

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2. Getty Images

    “He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities.”

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Hayes (2133)
  2. S. Crosby (2012)
  3. R. Johansen (1667)
  4. D. Alfredsson (1548)
  5. J. Giguere (1407)
  1. J. Spezza (1373)
  2. A. Ovechkin (1306)
  3. S. Mason (1230)
  4. C. MacArthur (1145)
  5. I. Kovalchuk (1113)