Brandon Hagel

Lightning Embark On Four-City Trip Following Lost Opportunity Against Devils

Brandon Hagel
Brandon Hagel Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. – After playing exceptionally well in taking a pair of games from the Devils in Newark, the Lightning had their ups and downs over the weekend at Amalie Arena.

After getting past Montreal on Saturday night, they appeared to be on their way to defeating New Jersey on Sunday evening, and for a third time in five days. It was not meant to be as a 2-0, second-period lead turned into a 5-2 defeat.

It was how the Bolts lost their two-goal lead against the Devils that was of concern. Much of the final period and a half resembled what hindered them during a 4-6-4 stretch prior to traveling to the Garden State. Specifically, coach Jon Cooper noted “senseless turnovers” and his team being its “own worst enemy.”

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Sure, the Lightning had won three straight and appeared to have ironed out their inconsistencies. However, there was more for the taking against the Devils and points were left on the table.

“If I am going to big-picture this and say we played Jersey three times in five nights and got four out of six points, then we’re taking that,” he said. “When you get four, you want to be a little greedy (and get five or six).”

The Lightning are back on the road for four games in eight days starting Tuesday night with a date in Montreal against the Canadiens, who they dominated statistically Saturday night before Brandon Hagel’s empty-netter sealed a 5-3 win.

Speaking of Hagel, the empty-netter was his third goal of the evening marking his second career hat trick. His first three-goal game in a Tampa Bay uniform came in his 200th career match. His previous hat trick was in his 100th career game while with Chicago against New Jersey last season, a couple of weeks prior to being dealt to the Bolts.

After visiting Montreal, the Lightning travel to Ottawa for a game Thursday night. Then it is off to Boston for a Saturday afternoon date with the Bruins. The trip concludes next Tuesday night at Carolina.

Indeed, it will be a busy stretch in what has been a busy schedule since the all-star break. March has been and will continue to be demanding.

“The challenge has been (and will be playing) 16 games in the month of March,” said Cooper. “We have played the most games since the all-star break. We had multiple games in hand on teams and now those same teams have multiple games in hand on us. It has been a tough stretch for the boys.”

The Lightning, who are in third in the Atlantic Division with 90 points and three points behind second-place Toronto, which has two games in hand, return home next Thursday to play the Capitals.

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