The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Minnesota Wild, 3-1, on Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, who was chased from the game on Sunday night, smothered the Bolts, stopping all but one of their 33 shots. It was a frustrating loss for Tampa which was coming off an undefeated weekend against the Florida Panthers.
After a scoreless first period, Tampa center Steven Stamkos put the Bolts on the board first. Stamkos nabbed a loose puck off the board, beating the Wild defensemen in the neutral zone with his speed and then ripped a shot top shelf past Backstrom to give the Lightning the 1-0 lead. It was his 15th goal of the season, as the red hot center now trails league leader Phil Kessel by only one goal.
The Wild would tie the game shortly thereafter, with a terrible Eric Brewer turnover leading to a shorthanded Cal Clutterbuck goal. Brewer simply tried to turn with the puck behind the net to move up ice and failed to handle it, letting the puck get away from him and slide into the open ice and onto the stick of Mikko Koivu. With a two on none chance, Koivu would slide it over to Clutterbuck who put a move on Tampa goalie Mathieu Garon and evened it at 1-1. It was an embarrassing puck handling display by Brewer, and a costly goal in what was a one goal game until the final minute.
The Wild would take a 2-1 lead in the second period on Pierre-Marc Bouchard's one timer. Bouchard was set up by a beautiful backhand cross-ice pass through traffic from Nick Johnson. All alone, Bouchard ripped the one-timer past a rotating Garon for the lead.
Tampa could not solve Backstrom in the third, peppering the goalie with 13 shots. Minnesota would make it a two goal lead after Garon, who had a solid performance himself, was pulled with a minute to go. Koivu converted the empty netter. The Lightning now come back on Wednesday night against Detroit, looking to bounce back at Joe Louis Arena.