Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning falls to Penguins, behind 2-1 in East final (w/ video)

TAMPA — The Lightning stressed entering Wednesday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final how it needed to play much better to beat the Penguins in this series.

It wasn't getting enough shots.

It lacked puck possession.

It had too many turnovers.

"We haven't put our best foot forward," coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday.

It still hasn't.

For the second straight game, the Lightning got outplayed and nearly doubled up in shots in a 4-2 loss in front of a subdued sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena.

Had it not been for another Herculean effort by goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 44 saves, it could have been a lot uglier. Pittsburgh's 48 shots were the most allowed by the Lightning in a regulation postseason game and the first time it surrendered 40-plus shots in back-to-back games since October 2011. It was outshot 41-21 in Monday's 3-2 overtime loss.

Cooper called it "unacceptable."

"It doesn't matter who was in net," he said. "We could've had (Ben Bishop) and 'Vasy' in at the same time and they still might've squeaked a couple in."

After losing just twice total in the playoffs' first two rounds against the Red Wings and Islanders, Tampa Bay has dropped two straight to the Penguins to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, making for an almost must-win Game 4 on Friday at Amalie Arena.

"(The Penguins) are definitely a different team than the Reds Wings or Islanders," said center Tyler Johnson, who scored in the third period. "They're a fast-paced team, have a lot of skill. We've just got to adjust and play better. And I have all the faith in the world in our guys that we're able to do it."

The Penguins are beating the Lightning at its own game, using speed and puck possession to suffocate Tampa Bay at times. That included the second period, when Pittsburgh outshot the Lightning 21-6 and forced Cooper to take a timeout after the Lightning spent 3:30 in its zone on a power-play-like shift by the Penguins.

"(The Penguins) really turned the tables in the second period," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "They spent basically the whole period in our zone."

The Lightning's puck management is feeding the Penguins' transition game. Tampa Bay had 11 giveaways, with a turnover leading to the Penguins' first goal, by Carl Hagelin with 10 seconds left in the second period for a 1-0 lead.

"We're kind of trying to put a square peg in a round hole," Johnson said. "Not making the right plays, doing the right things."

And though two of the Penguins' big guns continued to deliver — Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each also scored — the Lightning snapped an 86-minute goal drought with Johnson's goal five minutes into the third. Ondrej Palat had the Lightning's other goal.

Captain Steven Stamkos, the Lightning's sidelined top scorer, can't return soon enough for Tampa Bay.

"You need more production than the same guys each night," Cooper said.

The Lightning has been resilient and unflappable this postseason, so it isn't hitting the panic button. But it's getting close to gut-check time.

"I think everyone is frustrated because you definitely don't want to lose the series," Johnson said. "But we have so much confidence in this group, we know we can bounce back. It's not about taking a knee. We're going to battle.

"They've got these ones, but now it's our turn. We've got to respond. Even if it takes twice the effort, we've got to do it."

Before it's too late.

Penguins 0 1 3 4
Lightning 0 0 2 2
Penguins 0 1 3 4
Lightning 0 0 2 2

 

FirstNone. PenaltyHornqvist, Pit (slash), 17:42.

Second1, Pit, Hagelin 5 (Kessel), 19:50. PenaltyCallahan, TB (hold), 3:57.

Third2, Pit, Kessel 7 (Bonino, Hagelin), 5:16. 3, TB, Johnson 5 (Kucherov), 5:30. 4, Pit, Crosby 5 (Malkin, Schultz), 10:50 (pp). 5, Pit, Kunitz 2, 13:12. 6, TB, Palat 4 (Kucherov), 18:16. PenaltiesPalat, TB (rough), 9:05; Letang, Pit (rough), 9:05; Coburn, TB (elbow), 9:53; Coburn, TB (high-stick), 14:12; Killorn, TB, minor-misconduct (rough), 19:41; Daley, Pit (rough), 19:41. SOGPit 10-21-17—48. TB 12-6-10—28. PPsPit 1 of 3; TB 0 of 1. GoaliesPit, Murray 9-3 (28 shots-26 saves). TB, Vasilevskiy 1-2 (48-44).

     
Comments
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 Monda...
Updated: 3 hours ago
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 ...
Updated: 3 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 the ...
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
Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

TAMPA — After clinging to a 1-0 lead for more than two periods Saturday, the Lightning got a long-awaited cushion — and ultimately the winning goal — when Nikita Kucherov scored with 7:33 left in the final period of a 3-1 victo...
Published: 04/21/18