Saturday, November 25, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Boucher: Stay the course

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NEWARK, N.J. — Coach Guy Boucher insisted the Lightning is not far away from a turning point, and it is not time to change direction to get out of a 4-11-1 stretch.

"Our work ethic is there," Boucher said. "Our enthusiasm is there for practices and games. The cornerstones of success are there. We can't start changing things. I've got to stick with the fundamentals of our plan of attack, our vision. If it wasn't working. I would change something."

Some might say such a stretch after a 6-1-0 start is reason enough to change players, the system, even the coach. But Boucher said the team generally hasn't played badly (except for the abysmal 4-1 loss to the Rangers on Feb. 28) and is simply guilty of trying too many "gambling" plays that backfire and end up in the Tampa Bay net.

That's what happened in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Penguins in which turnovers led to two Pittsburgh goals in 111 seconds of the third period that turned a 2-1 Lightning lead into a 3-2 deficit.

"We know our organized plan of attack is good," Boucher said. "If it wasn't, I would have changed it a long time ago. But when you see 58 minutes where you play terrific and then for two minutes you sabotage it, you're not going to change it for two minutes of sabotaging."

Captain Vinny Lecavalier agreed the easiest, and worst, thing to do is point fingers: "We can't feel sorry for ourselves and look for changing people, players, whatever it is. We have to do it ourselves."

Not so far-fetched, Boucher said.

"The easy way would be let's start changing this, changing that, changing personnel," he said. "The reality is, successful people all go through moments. The difference between them and the ones who are not successful, who quit and change and get discouraged, the successful ones take those as fuel to get better and eventually do great things."

As for Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Devils, Boucher said, "It's one more of the bricks we've been building for the last games. Everything we've done before paid off. But it wasn't just a one-game thing. It's been growing and growing for a long time."

GARON BETTER: G Mathieu Garon said his lower-body injury is "not major" and hopes to be playing in "a couple of days."

Garon was hurt early in the second period Monday when he twisted to get into position to make what turned out to be a stellar save on Evgeni Malkin.

"Day to day," said Garon, who left after stopping 12 of 13 shots. "We'll have to test it on the ice, but in a couple of days, hopefully, I'll be good."

Garon's 2011-12 season ended March 6 against the Senators with a torn groin, though he said his current injury is unrelated.

"It's not something to fall off a bridge for," Boucher said.

SECOND ACT: The last time G Cedrick Desjardins was with the Lightning was 2010-11, when he played and won two games during a call-up from AHL Norfolk.

"It brings you confidence," said Desjardins, who on Tuesday because of Garon's injury was called up from AHL Syracuse to back up Anders Lindback against the Devils. "The last couple of years it was the reason I worked a little bit extra all the time, to have a chance to feel that. When you have success you want it again."

Desjardins, 27, wasn't signed after 2011-12 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. He played in the minors for the Avalanche and Canadiens before Tampa Bay re-acquired him last month from Montreal for G Dustin Tokarski.

MORE INJURIES: LW Ryan Malone (lower body), missed his 13th game, but had a hard practice, Boucher said. … LW Ben Pouliot (upper body) is on injured reserve retroactive to March 2. His earliest return is Saturday.

ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay has allowed three shorthanded goals, tied for the league lead. … LW Ondrej Palat has an assist in each of his first two NHL games. ... Defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brendan Mikkelson were scratched.

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