Sidney Crosby’s milestone night, other takeaways from a busy NHL Saturday

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Jon Cooper
Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Problems with the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Back before the 2020-21 NHL season commenced, I think the consensus was that the Tampa Bay Lightning would run riot in what looked to be a weak Central Division. While that may still be the case, it isn’t panning out that way right now.

I mean, the Carolina Hurricanes are an impressive 7-2-1 in their last 10 and are top of the division, the Florida Panthers have been the surprise story of the year and are second and the Chicago Blackhawks, who were supposed to be rebuilding, are sitting in third with Tampa Bay in fourth.

So, what is going on?

Again, we’re only a quarter of a way through the season and every team will go through rough stretches so there is plenty of time for the Lightning to figure things out, but they are struggling right now and their offense drew a big blank on Saturday night.

They were shutout in a tough 4-0 loss to the Hurricanes, and it was the second time they had been shutout by the Canes who were playing the second game of a back-to-back. Alex Nedeljkovic was superb as he made 24 saves to record his first career shutout in the NHL, and the Hurricanes are red hot right now.

The Lightning have been anything but hot as of late and, while they are still ranked third in the NHL in Goals For Per Game (3.60), it is slightly concerning that they have now been blanked twice by Carolina this year. It is also safe to say that they just played a sloppy hockey game on Saturday and they will need to tidy up on certain things and learn from their mistakes if they are to avoid losing out on the top seed in the Central to a team like the Carolina Hurricanes, who look the real deal right now.