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Lightning brushes up on defense in Wednesday’s practice

By Roger Mooney
More attention to detail in the defensive zone could prevent more scenes like this when opposing teams celebrate a goal against the Lightning. (DIRK SHADD | Times)

TAMPA — The Lightning held a short practice Wednesday with the emphasis on defense and players engaged in one-on-one battles in the defensive zone.

After blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in Tuesday's 5-4 overtime win against the Panthers and a one-goal lead in in the third period Saturday of the 7-6 shootout win against the Flyers, it was time for the Lightning to get back to basics when it comes to defending its own net.

"It's an area we need to improve on," coach Jon Cooper said.

"It's a good step in the right direction," defenseman Victor Hedman added.

The Lightning has worked on its defense in recent practices, so Wednesday's drills were nothing new.

"So it's kind of been the theme we've been running here the last few practices, getting guys engaged on the defensive side of the puck," Cooper said. "When that happens, when you're compete-level is going on in practice, it should translate into games."

The Lightning let a two-goal lead slip away Tuesday against a hungry Panthers team chasing down a wild card spot. Cooper said the defensive breakdowns didn't begin in the third period.

"We just weren't defending the way we need to be defending all the way through," Cooper said. It just caught up to us in the third."

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An issue is winning the battles to 50-50 pucks in the defensive zone.\

"You got to win those battles," Cooper said.

The Lightning has not been winning enough of them.

Hence, Wednesday's practice.

"A lot of stuff you do in practice you're going to bring into the games," Hedman said. "The better you practice, the better your games are going to be."

That's the idea.

Contact Roger Mooney at [email protected] Follow @rogermooney50