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Cooper: Nikita Kucherov needs to shoot more



With the Lightning struggling to score, trailing by goal Thursday, wing Nikita Kucherov came in on a 2-on-1 with defenseman Luke Witkowski.

Kucherov passed, and the rush ended. Kucherov, the team's leading scorer, has been passing a little too much lately, including racking up zero shots on goal in Thursday's 2-1 loss in San Jose.

In the last four games, Kucherov has as many shots (eight) as fourth-line wing Gabriel Dumont.

"The one thing with 'Kuch, we've talked with him, he's got to shoot more," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's somebody that knows how to put the puck in the net and is probably being a little too unselfish and trying to set up other guys, which he's done a heck of  job of. And the other guys aren't finishing as well.

"When he's got the puck on his stick, you want him to pull the trigger. And if he does that a little bit more, things will go well for him."

Kucherov has said it's a habit dating to his days growing up in Russia to always look to set teammates up if they're open. He still has a team-high 17 goals, two in the last eight. He was reunited with Triplets linemates Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat for Friday's practice, so that could help.

More notes: With no morning skate Saturday, the lineup won't be known until tonight. But expect G Ben Bishop to start against the Coyotes, who  have lost four straight.... RW Erik Condra was placed on waivers for the second time this season. If Condra clears, he'll have to report to AHL Syracuse.... Condra's move could mean RW J.T. Brown (upper body) is getting closer to a return. He's practiced this week in a red non-contact jersey...D Victor Hedman could be back tonight, having missed three games due to an illness. Though Hedman declined to elaborate on what ailed him, clearly it was bad. "It's tough to go through," Hedman said. "Probably the first time I've been sick like this." Hedman was impressed how the Lightning played 'D' without him, giving up four regulation goals in three games. "Guys stepped up, and shared the load and put us in position to win games," Cooper said. "It shows that you play good team defense and I emphasize team, shouldn't matter how many guys come in and out." The Lightning's annual rookie dinner is Sunday in Arizona, and at least Brayden Point has some help with the tab as Jake Dotchin and Joel Vermin are on the trip. "It's a rite of passage," veteran D Braydon Coburn.



[Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2017 1:07pm]


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