Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

In must-win game, Lightning falls to Capitals (w/video)

TAMPA — The Lightning has made a remarkable run with an injury-depleted lineup, which features six rookies.

Instead of captain Steven Stamkos or Tyler Johnson, there are youngsters such as Yanni Gourde and Byron Froese. Heck, defenseman Luke Witkowski is filling in as a fourth-line wing.

That has worked for a while thanks to grit and guts, heroics by Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

But is it sustainable?

It certainly wasn't Saturday night, the Lightning losing another must-win game, 5-3 to the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay has dropped back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 2, when it was last in the conference. The Lightning (34-28-9) is still just two points out of the final wild-card spot behind Toronto (which has a game in hand) with 11 to go. But does it have the roster to pull off another run?

"You don't have guys," coach Jon Cooper said. "And we've found ways to win with this lineup. You're playing good teams, these teams are in the playoffs. That's an 100-point team. It's tough. You're hanging in there with them."

The Lightning hung in there Saturday even when it looked like it would be a blowout. It overcame a two-goal first period deficit, entering the third tied. "We gave ourselves a chance," defenseman Braydon Coburn said.

But the Capitals scored twice in the first five minutes of the period to pull away, Nikita Kucherov's second goal of the game in the final minutes making it interesting.

It's awfully hard for the Lightning, which has been a one-line team of late. Cooper rode Kucherov, Point and Palat (career-high 26 minutes, 16 seconds), all logging more than 20 minutes, no other forward reaching 18.

"We need more than Point, Kucherov and Palat," Cooper said.

Wing Alex Killorn, who snapped a 16-game goal drought, said players other than Kucherov need to step up and produce, himself included. So does Jonathan Drouin, who is in a 12-game drought. They have no choice.

Stamkos (knee surgery) is getting closer, but there's no guarantee he plays by the end of the regular season. Centers Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette have no timeline for their return. Tampa Bay doesn't have the margin for error to have lapses, like it did on the deflating third goal, a tip by Justin Williams just after a power play expired.

"We take a penalty, get through it and then stopped playing," Cooper said.

Said Killorn: "We've got to compete for the entire game. It wasn't there (Saturday)."

Tampa Bay had its chances in the second period, Gabriel Dumont stopped on the doorstep, Drouin hitting the post.

"We've got to make sure we don't lose faith," Hedman said.

Or lose any more players.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected].

Capitals2035
Lightning2013

First Period1, Washington, Oshie 27 (Johansson, Backstrom), 3:44 (pp). 2, Washington, Oshie 28 (Ovechkin, Backstrom), 11:52. 3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 32 (Point, Palat), 15:52 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Killorn 17 (Drouin), 16:08. PenaltiesTampa Bay bench, served by Witkowski (too many men on the ice), 2:33; Oshie, WSH, (high sticking), 15:24; Mckegg, TB, (roughing), 18:37; Wilson, WSH, (roughing), 18:37; Brown, TB, (roughing), 18:37; Carlson, WSH, (roughing), 18:37.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesNone.

Third Period5, Washington, Williams 20 (Niskanen, Burakovsky), 3:14. 6, Washington, Carlson 8 (Oshie, Backstrom), 5:30. 7, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 33 (Point), 18:30. 8, Washington, Oshie 29 (Backstrom), 19:16. PenaltiesDrouin, TB, (interference), 1:01. Shots on GoalWashington 10-13-12—35. Tampa Bay 10-8-11—29. Power-play opportunitiesWashington 1 of 2; Tampa Bay 1 of 1. GoaliesWashington, Holtby 36-11-6 (29 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Budaj 28-21-3 (0-0), Vasilevskiy 17-15-6 (34-30). A19,092 (19,092).

     
                   
Comments
Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

The Lightning re-signed goaltender Eddie Pasquale to a one-year, two-way contract general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.Pasquale, 27, split this past season between the Syracuse Crunch and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League. He...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

TAMPA — The Lightning will open its seven-game preseason schedule at home with a 7:30 p.m.  game Sept. 18 against the Carolina Hurricane, the team announced Thursday.That is one of three home games the Lightning will play in a preseason sc...
Published: 06/14/18
Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Sixteen months after acquiring Peter Budaj from the Kings, the Lightning today returned the veteran goaltender to Los Angeles.The Lightning traded Budaj for forward Andy Andreoff, general manager Steve Yzerman announced in a news release.Andreoff, 27...
Published: 06/13/18
Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

This past season didn't end the way Lightning fans might have hoped, but that's no reason to lose hope.In fact, oddsmakers are more bullish on Tampa Bay than any team in the NHL for next season.According to at least one sports betting site, the ...
Published: 06/08/18
Washington has a new hero. His name is Devante Smith-Pelly

Washington has a new hero. His name is Devante Smith-Pelly

LAS VEGAS — Before Devante Smith-Pelly could relax or breathe or even start thinking about his game-tying goal, he had to start moving his feet.The period of recall began midway through the third period Thursday night, when the Capitals trailed, 3-2....
Published: 06/08/18
Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup wait is finally over. Who has waited longer?

Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup wait is finally over. Who has waited longer?

The Washington Capitals won the first Stanley Cup title in the franchise's 43-year history Thursday night in Las Vegas.And still the St. Louis Blues and their fans wait. The Blues marked their 50th NHL season this year; 50 years without a Cup.He...
Published: 06/08/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What could have been for the Lightning

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What could have been for the Lightning

As the Washington Capitals celebrate their first Stanley Cup championship, Rick Stroud reflects on what could have been for the Lightning, which came within a victory of eliminating Washington in the conference final.Plus, the Rays lose in ...
Published: 06/08/18
Capitals win first Stanley Cup, eliminate Golden Knights in 5

Capitals win first Stanley Cup, eliminate Golden Knights in 5

LAS VEGAS — Alex Ovechkin put both hands to his head and screamed while he left the bench and skated into the thick of the Washington Capitals' joyous celebration. And right before Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Washington captain put ...
Published: 06/07/18
Updated: 06/08/18
Here’s what I remember about the Lightning’s Stanley Cup. How about you?

Here’s what I remember about the Lightning’s Stanley Cup. How about you?

You might not recognize the name, but my words were probably some of the first you read after the Lightning won its first – and, so far, only — Stanley Cup 14 years ago today.In the days before social media, email newsletters and push not...
Published: 06/07/18
The Lightning Effect on the Stanley Cup is about to strike again

The Lightning Effect on the Stanley Cup is about to strike again

Call it the Lightning effect.The Washington Capitals are a win away from ending years of frustration and winning their first Stanley Cup.As if we doubted them.RELATED: More Lightning coverageAlex Ovechkin and his Caps teammates have the Tampa Bay Lig...
Published: 06/05/18