Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning lacks spark in 3-1 loss to Kings (w/video)

LOS ANGELES - One day after escaping a serious eye injury, goalie Ben Bishop lobbied to play Sunday night against the Kings.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, Bishop got his wish.

Bishop was scheduled to serve as backup, but Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled after allowing two goals in 10 shots.

"We were just looking for that spark," coach Jon Cooper said.

That spark never came in a 3-1 loss to the Kings at the sold-out Staples Center. Tampa Bay snapped a two-game winning streak, squandering a chance for its first three-game sweep on a west-coast trip since 1993.

"I think if you go on the trip saying you're going to get four out of six points heading home, I think we'd be happy," center Tyler Johnson said. "But for us to get those first two wins and (Sunday) not necessarily playing our 'A' game, I think that's a little disappointing. That kind of hinders the good mentality of the trip."

The Lightning (13-12-3) might have came home with six points had it not been for the stunningly prolonged scoring - and power play - slump. Tampa Bay went 0-for-6 on the power play with four combined shots, including zero on 1 minute, 10 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the second period.

"Pretty atrocious," Johnson said.

"Frustrating," said captain Steven Stamkos, who was a minus-3 and held without a shot. "We have the talent to do it, it's just execution."

The Lightning was held to one goal or fewer for the 10th time in 27 games, the 16th time with two or fewer. That made for a very small margin for error for Vasilevskiy, who was making his first start since Nov. 27. Vasilevskiy gave up a back-breaking, go-ahead goal 39 seconds into the second - just 12 seconds after Brian Boyle had tied the game. Cooper replaced Vasilevskiy with Bishop, who had taken a stick to his right eye Saturday in San Jose, leaving with only a cut. Bishop said he felt good Sunday, with no vision issues or pain.

"Obviously not how I want to go in, somebody's pulled," Bishop said. "I tried to go out there and give the team a chance to win."

The Kings would effectively put it away later in the second with a goal by Milan Lucic, who beat Valtteri Filppula up the middle on a rush. Bishop played well to keep the Lightning close, including a huge breakaway save on Tanner Pearson midway through the third. But it wasn't enough. Center Tyler Johnson returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury Nov. 27, but had a quiet night with zero shots. "I need to play better," he said.

The Lightning returns home, but won't play again until Thursday against Ottawa.

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