Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning develops knack for shorthanded goals

TAMPA — Shift length. The length of time his players have been on the ice and their ability to assess their energy levels.

That is the key to the Lightning's expertise at scoring shorthanded goals, coach Jon Cooper said.

"At the beginning of a shift, we emphasize if there's a chance to make a play, make a play," Cooper said. "But if you're at the end of a shift, don't extend it to try to get that extra chance."

It is a simple formula, but it has added an element to the Lightning's game that was nonexistent last season, one Cooper emphasized in training camp and that at any moment can change the dynamic of a game.

It happened Tuesday when Tyler Johnson scored shorthanded with 7:19 left in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and ended up getting the winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens that clinched Tampa Bay's first playoff spot since 2011.

It was the Lightning's 10th shorthanded goal this season, tied for second in the league, quite an accomplishment considering the team had zero shorthanded goals in last-season's lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule and just nine in five seasons from 2008-13.

"It can change the course of a game," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "It has a real uplifting affect on your team. And having a power play that gets scored on can be demoralizing. In our league, where there are so many one-goal games and close games, a shorthanded goal can be huge."

"It's something that gives the other team's power play something to worry about," Johnson said. "I know when we have our power-play meetings, if we're going up against a team that has a lot of shorthanded opportunities, you're maybe not taking some of those chances."

The starting point for the Lightning's penalty kill is the same as every team's: short-circuit the opposition's power play. And truth be told, Tampa Bay has been sketchy in that at times; its 80.6 efficiency entered Wednesday tied for 22nd in the 30-team league.

But the Lightning also is greedy, with speedy, young legs and opportunistic, skilled players who put pressure on opponents and wait to pounce on their mistakes.

They did it Tuesday when defenseman Victor Hedman poked a puck away from Montreal's David Desharnais to spring a sprinting Johnson on his winning breakaway.

"The speed of our forwards is a big emphasis," Hedman said. "At the same time, we don't take chances. We take chances when broken plays happen, like (Tuesday)."

Hedman entered Wednesday leading the league with six shorthanded assists. Johnson, whose 23 goals tied Steve Stamkos' team rookie mark, was tied for the lead with five shorthanded goals. Both were tied with New Jersey's Patrik Elias for the top spot with six shorthanded points.

Interestingly, the Lightning tonight hosts the Flames, who have a league-most 12 shorthanded goals.

In Tampa Bay's penalty kill, if players deviate from the prime directive — "Keep the puck out of (our) net," Cooper said — they are off the unit.

"When you're under duress, getting pucks 200 feet is mandatory," Cooper said. "But when there's time and open space … let's see if we can make a play.

"If you think about it, how often do power plays practice D zone coverage? It doesn't really happen that often, so if you can take advantage of it, why wouldn't you?"

FUN FACT: Johnson has five shorthanded goals and five power-play goals. He is the first rookie to do so since Dennis Maruk had seven power-play goals and five shorties for the 1975-76 California Golden Seals, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected] View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

Scoring four-on-five

The Lightning has more shorthanded goals this season than the past five combined:

SeasonNo.Rank
2013-1410Tied 2nd
20130Tied 30th
2011-122Tied 30th
2010-11130th
2009-10230th
2008-094Tied 26th





. Tonight

Lightning vs. Flames

When/where: 7:30; Tampa Bay Times Forum

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: Since the 2003-04 Stanley Cup final, Tampa Bay is 4-2-0 against the Flames. … The Lightning power play is 12-for-44 (27.3 percent) in its past nine games. … The Flames have a league-best 12 shorthanded goals. … Calgary's road penalty kill is the league's second worst at 75.9 percent. … Flames and former Lightning G Karri Ramo is 3-3-0 in his past six games with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Comments
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

Winter Olympics: Youth leads U.S. men’s hockey team against Russia on Saturday

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk were dominating the NHL before Ryan Donato, Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway started playing organized hockey. "I think I dreamed about playing against those guys one day," Donato, 21, said. Dre...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18
Fans can play games with the Lightning at Bolts Family Carnival

Fans can play games with the Lightning at Bolts Family Carnival

Fans will have a chance to interact with Lightning players, coaches, staff and alumni and challenge them to games at the Bolts Family Carnival Feb. 18 from 1-4 p.m. at Amalie Arena.Games include derby race, wacky water race, high strik...
Published: 02/16/18
Why ‘Everyman’ Brian Boyle connected with Lightning fans

Why ‘Everyman’ Brian Boyle connected with Lightning fans

TAMPA — Artie Boyle was part of the sellout crowd at Amalie Arena for the NHL All-Star Game in late January.And Boyle, 63, stood with the rest of the 19,092 fans that gave his son, Devils forward Brian Boyle, the largest ovation of the wee...
Published: 02/16/18
Brayden Point held out of practice for body maintenance

Brayden Point held out of practice for body maintenance

C Brayden Point did not skate Friday, missing the Lightning's practice with what the team termed a "body maintenance" day.Point, who did not participate in Thursday's morning skate, played in Thursday's 4-1 win against the visiting Red Wings. He took...
Published: 02/16/18