Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning can't afford bad trip on West Coast swing

TAMPA — Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper didn't mince words when describing the Lightning's upcoming three-game western road trip: the team has to get some points.

The teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference are jumbled together with a total of six points separating the fourth-ranked Senators and the 12th-ranked Flyers.

Tampa Bay is sitting 10th with 25 points. One bad road trip or one bad weekend like the team had Friday and Saturday can cause a huge shift in the standings. And while there are 57 games left for Tampa Bay (11-11-3), Cooper wants his team to get on a roll starting Wednesday at Anaheim.

"Everybody is chipping away except for us," Cooper said of his team. "It sure seems like it takes a long time to gain ground in the standings, but it doesn't take too long to lose ground. …There's no woulda, coulda, shoulda. We have to get points."

Special teams hurt the Lightning over the weekend. Before Friday's game at Washington, the Lightning had killed 44 of 49 opponents' power plays in the previous 18 games. Over the weekend, the team allowed five power-play goals and dropped from 14th to 26th.

The Lightning's 22nd-ranked power play hasn't had much of a spark lately either. Tampa Bay has failed to notch a goal with the extra-man advantage in six of its past seven contests.

"You need wins right now," forward Ryan Callahan said. "It's hard to pinpoint one thing, lack of execution, effort. It's everything on the power play right now. It needs to be better."

Tampa Bay could get some help with some injured players returning. Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) and Cedric Paquette (upper body) practiced Monday and could play by Wednesday. Both have missed six straight games. Tyler Johnson, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, did not practice but Cooper said he is making the trip.

Cooper thinks their return could pick things up for Tampa Bay, who also play Saturday at San Jose and Sunday at Los Angeles. Tampa Bay next plays at home Dec. 10 against Ottawa.

"It seems like when the power play goes 2-for-5, we win 7-0," Cooper said. "When we need the power play to go 2-for-5 or 1-for-4, the game where it's 1-0 or 1-1 (we don't get one). And then you look at the last two games, we outscore the teams 5-on-5 and we lost both games. We lost both games because we gave up power-play goals.

"It seems like when you plug one hole, two more open up in the boat," he said. "There's frustration in the group but the guys' spirits are good. We know we've got a few important players on the shelf that are nearing their way back. Our (AHL) callups have given us a great boost but I think we'll get an even bigger boost when some of these guys come back."

Move: Tampa Bay recalled defenseman Nikita Nesterov and sent defenseman Luke Witkowski back to AHL Syracuse.

Lightning can't afford bad trip on West Coast swing 11/30/15 [Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2015 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener


    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.