Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning battles through tough stretch

TAMPA — When expectations are high and things don't start the way a team wants, it is easy for it to lose confidence. The Lightning is currently going through a tough stretch, having lost three consecutive games entering tonight's game against the Bruins.

But though the players are fighting through the frustrations of losing close games, coach Jon Cooper is seeing his team display habits that will eventually help it win.

"In the end, it's about how many goals you give up," Cooper said. "Ultimately that's how you're judged. But habits and how you play, how many scoring chances are you really giving up, (also matter). If you can sit here and say you're giving up 10 or less (scoring chances) in a game, you have a pretty good chance of winning the game. That's what we've been doing of late (with scoring chances).

"There have been some encouraging signs. We're not winning any games, but we're climbing the defensive statistical ladder. But I still believe those are where your habits start, and your winning starts on your end first. We're not showing that in the standings now, but I have complete confidence that we will if we keep this up."

Cooper is also seeing signs of the offense picking up. After not getting 30 shots on net in regulation in the five previous games (Tampa Bay had 31 against the Jets, but two came in overtime), the Lightning ripped 35 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche on Thursday.

"People are saying they aren't scoring, but they are getting chances, and eventually they're going in," Cooper said. "You're not going to keep those guys off the sheet forever. It's just unfortunate because these are all one-goal games. When we need that extra one, we're having trouble finding it.

"The group was zipping around (Friday). They were working hard, and that's what they've been doing all year. So eventually we'll break out of this."

This is the Lightning's longest regular-season losing streak since Tampa Bay lost five straight from March 4-10, 2014, and two of those losses came in shootouts.

Though the Lightning has given up just four regulation goals in the past three games, it has scored just one goal. That is unusual from pretty much the same team that led the NHL in scoring last season.

"Sometimes it's hard not to get frustrated, especially when guys are used to scoring a lot of goals and you're playing well and that's not happening," wing Erik Condra said. "But a big thing is we wanted to focus on defense. … And we've been playing good defense.

"And last game we had a lot of opportunities. When you're not getting opportunities, that's when you get frustrated. … We have enough skill in here that at some point they'll start going in."

While the Lightning looks to regain its scoring touch, it also has to deal with injuries beginning to pile up.

Forwards Jonathan Drouin (lower body) and Cedric Paquette (ankle) did not practice Friday and were doubtful for tonight's contest. Also, forward Tyler Johnson has an undisclosed injury and did not practice. Cooper did not rule him out but said if Johnson isn't better, the Lightning may have to make another callup.

Still, Condra said it's best to go through these issues now rather than later in the year.

"We're still trying to find ourselves as a team," he said. "Sometimes you need to go through a little adversity and learn from that to become better at the end."

VASILEVSKIY WINS AGAIN: Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of 28 shots Friday night in his second — and possibly final — rehab start for AHL Syracuse, a 4-1 win over visiting Hershey. "I feel great," Vasilev­skiy told the Syracuse Post Standard. Sidelined since early September after surgery for a blood clot in his collarbone area, Vasilevskiy could rejoin the Lightning this weekend. If recalled, he might start Sunday against the Hurricanes. Crunch coach Rob Zettler said after Friday's game that he had no word on a Vasilevskiy call­up, or any forward callups.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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: 3 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