By Dory LeBlanc
Tampa Bay fell to Calgary 4-1 in front of a far less rowdy crowd than the one that showed up to the Forum Tuesday to watch the Lightning clinch their first playoff berth in three years.
No matter how many shifts in momentum the Bolts forced, the Flames kept countering every move and seemed to score easily on one of the league's top goalies, Ben Bishop Thursday.
The Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead within 15 seconds of each goal just over the halfway point of the opening period. Bolts netminder Ben Bishop attempted to clear the puck from behind the net, but Calgary's Mike Cammalleri intercepted it and scored at 10:35.
At 10:50, Kevin Westgarth knocked in Christoher Breen's rebound to extend the lead by one.
The NHL's March Rookie of the Year cut the Flames' lead in half just over four minutes into the second period. Ondrej Palat became the fourth Lightning rookie to score at least 20 goals in his first season, joining Steven Stamkos (23), Tyler Johnson (23) and Brad Richards (21). Ryan Callahan picked up a secondary assist on the goal, his 11th point since being traded to Tampa Bay on March 5th (15 games).
For the remainder of the tilt, the Lightning continued to show flashes of sharp hockey, keeping fans' hopes alive, but with less than two minutes to go in regulation, Calgary regained the two-goal lead after Curtis Glencross sent the puck past Bishop as the Flames had a man-advantage due to Eric Brewer's tripping penalty.
The Flames added insult to injury with 15 seconds left, as Glencross picked up his second goal of the night on the empty-netter.
With the loss, the Lightning remain tied in points (93) with Montreal, but fall behind them to third in the Atlantic Division. Although Tampa Bay has already clinched a spot in this year's playoffs, they need to continue racking up the points for playoff positioning.
First Period -
1. CGY - Cammalleri (Unassisted) 10:35
2. CGY - Westgarth (Breen) 10:50
Second Period -
1. TB - Palat (Carle, Callahan) 15:56
Third Period -
1. CGY - Glencross (Cammalleri, Russell) 18:04
2. CGY - EN: Glencross (Unassisted) 19:44
Shootout Tally: N/A
Shots On Goal:
CGY - 25
TB - 32
CGY - (1) None; (2) Brodie - Cross-Checking, Butler - Slashing; (3) Giordano - Tripping
TB - (1) None; (2) Killorn - Holding; (3) Brewer - Tripping
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay continue on their six-game homestand Saturday, April 5th at 7:00 pm when they host the Dallas Stars. You can catch all of the action on sister station 970 WFLA with Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin giving the call with coverage beginning at 6:30 pm.