Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/11/11
After three games of a grueling 10-day road trip to start the season, its difficult to make any definitive assessment of the Tampa Bay Lightning. But a tweet from head coach Guy Boucher Tuesday afternoon probably said it best: We just played two of the top teams in the league. Now we know how far we have to go. Lets take a closer look. In the season opener last Friday, the Bolts easily dispatched of the same Carolina team they knocked out of playoff contention on the final day of the 2010-11 campaign. Their 5-1 win was powered by goals from the most familiar tandem of Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, who wiped out an early 1-0 deficit, and followed with scores from Steve Downie, Nate Thompson and Ryan Malone. Toss in 32 saves from Dwayne Roloson and Tampa Bay couldnt have asked for a better way to raise the curtain on the new season. That wouldnt be true, however, in the two games that followed against a pair of NHL powers, the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and Southeast Division winners Washington. Saturday night in Boston, the Lightning visited the TD Garden for the first time since watching their dream of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals vanish in a nail-biting 1-0 loss last May. Boucher and Co. would naturally have liked nothing more than to return to the scene of the season-ending heartbreak and come away with a win if nothing other than to get a good barometer reading right out of the box. That didnt happen, though the 4-1 defeat was tighter than the final score suggested. St. Louis, signaling hes on track for yet another big season at age 36, scored for the second straight game and the 300th time in his career, lifting the Lightning into an early 1-1 tie after a scoreless first period. New backup goalkeeper Mathieu Garon got the start over Roloson, and had 38 saves in his debut. But once again, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas rose to the occasion as he did so often last year in winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHLs best netminder. He finished with 25 saves, while Boston outshot the Lightning 42-26 and put the game away with a pair of third-period goals. Then came Monday nights slugfest at Washingtons Verizon Center, ending with a 6-5 shootout loss to the team Tampa Bay knocked out of the playoffs in a sweep. Beating Washington would have been the perfect way to bounce back from the loss in Boston two nights before. And victory was close at hand, as the Lightning took a 5-4 lead on a Brett Clark goal with seven minutes to play in regulation. But the Caps Jason Chimera scored with 2:44 remaining in the third period to force overtime. Washington was called for a pair of penalties in OT, but Tampa Bay wasnt able to take advantage, and Matt Hendricks eventually scored the game-winner in the tie-breaker to lift the home team to 2-0 and drop the Lightning to 1-2. The Bolts could take heart in another strong effort by the 42-year-old Roloson, who notched 38 saves of his own in the loss, and in a game they nearly won against a standout team that was gunning for them. Yet in the end, they were undone by turnovers, including a late one by Dominic Moore in his own zone that led to Chimeras game-tying goal his second of the night. If not for that, the Lighting might well be looking at a more uplifting 2-1 start in hostile territory, preparing for the next challenge Thursday night in New York against the Islanders. The five-game road trip ends Saturday night in South Florida against the Panthers. And with the home opener set for next Monday in a Panthers rematch, well have a much clearer view of how the Lightning stack up and just how far they have to go, in the tweeted words of their head coach.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eddie Lacy defends Mike McCarthy for weight loss comments

Red Sox nearly had serious catcher emergency in loss to Tigers

Ohio State DL Dylan Thompson ineligible for season

Roger Federer will miss Olympics, U.S. Open with knee injury

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

Report: Paul Pierce to return to Clippers

Jimbo Fisher: You come to FSU to win national championships

Andre Johnson worked out for Tennessee Titans

Shattenkirk for Krejci trade rumor still floating around

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies link to C.T.E.

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

Iowa researchers say they can optimize Monday Night Football ratings with scheduling

Terrelle Pryor can visit Ohio State as five-year ban comes to a close

Rudy Gay admits to having ‘no idea’ about what the Kings are doing

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker