Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning aims to emulate Rangers' recovery

TAMPA — Many Lightning players are in uncharted territory in terms of struggles, having lost eight of their past 11 games.

But to three former Rangers, there's a sense of deja vu, reminding them of the 2013-14 New York team. "Same feeling," veteran wing Ryan Callahan said. "Same bad stretch."

Like this year's Lightning, those Rangers also opened with 11 of their first 16 games on the road, going 8-8-0. Tampa Bay was 7-7-2. The Rangers also couldn't score; they were shut out three times in their first 10 games. And they had trouble finding their game, defenseman Anton Stralman said.

Sound familiar?

But those Rangers ended up playing their best hockey by the end of the season and reached the Stanley Cup final, in which they lost to the Kings. It's a good example for the Lightning, which can take away the same lessons, Callahan said, heading into tonight's game against the Panthers in Sunrise.

"Just keep working and … don't get discouraged with how we're playing," said Callahan, who was acquired from the Rangers at the 2014 trade deadline in the Marty St. Louis deal. "The biggest thing is stick with the game plan. Don't deviate from it and try to do it all by yourself, or try to get it all back in one game. Stick with the system, and if we do, we're going to work through it."

The Lightning believes it's getting closer to consistently better play, encouraged by how it played for most of Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Panthers. Though Tampa Bay has scored seven combined goals the past two games, it is still hurting itself with bad lapses during which it loses its structure. In Thursday's 3-1 win against the Flames, the lapse was the entire second period. Saturday it was a five-minute stretch in which the Lightning allowed three breakaways and gave up the lead.

The 2013-14 Rangers often did things like that early.

"There's similarities," Stralman said. "But we're going to get it. Everyone here wants to play a lot better. I think we're gaining some confidence with how we want to play."

Callahan said it takes more confidence, winning a few games in a row, and then the "bounces seem to go your way."

They haven't gone Tampa Bay's way recently, such as Callahan's clearing attempt Saturday that turned into a delay of game penalty. On the ensuing Florida power play, a point shot by Aaron Ekblad deflected off Lightning wing Erik Condra's stick and past goalie Ben Bishop for the goal that tied the score at 4.

"That's the domino effect," coach Jon Cooper said. "Ninety-nine times out of 100 that doesn't happen. … It seems like if there's a breakdown, it ends up in the back of our net."

Center Brian Boyle said the 2013-14 Rangers, of which he also was a member, didn't find their rhythm until December. "Once we did, it was like clockwork," he said.

The Rangers won 12 of 15 from late December through early January. Boyle said they broke down their schedule into 10-game segments, the goal being taking 13 of 20 possible points. "We ended up being the third-, fourth-best team in the league down the stretch," Boyle said.

Boyle said this Lightning team has stuck together, supporting each other instead of pointing fingers. Coaches are pushing the players, including giving a kick-in-the-rear speech during the second intermission Thursday.

"That's one of those, as a staff, you say, 'Enough is enough,' " Cooper said. "We had the opportunity to win a hockey game, and the pilot light needed to be lit."

Cooper is encouraged that his team's good habits are there; they're just not getting rewarded with points.

"We have to believe in each other and believe in what we're doing out there," Callahan said. "The stronger our belief is, the better we'll be. It's going to turn around here."

TWO CALLED UP: With forwards Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette banged up, neither practiced Sunday, and the Lightning recalled forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Blunden from AHL Syracuse. On the status of any injuries, general manager Steve Yzerman said, "We'll see in the A.M."

Comments
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Published: 04/21/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

TAMPA — In the postseason, teams want to bank days off so they are as fresh as can be for the next round. That's why it was so important for the Lightning to close out Jersey in five. The fewer the games, the less wear and tear on the body, les...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Published: 04/21/18