Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning feels pressure to get back to winning

TAMPA — Coming off a tough 2-1 loss to the Canucks on Tuesday in which the Lightning had 10 power play opportunities but scored on only one, the Christmas break was needed. Tampa Bay needed time to shake off the disappointment of that defeat.

Now that the Lightning's back, it's ready to make a move up the standings. Beginning with Saturday's 5-2 win against the Blue Jackets, the Lightning plays 15 of its next 22 games at home, including four straight at Amalie Arena. The win moved it one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I give Vancouver credit," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "They came in here to win a hockey game, and they did. It's a little bit more pressure on us now.

"We have to look down the road and say we have to win a lot more than we lose. We've got four games coming up at home, and we need to get back in the winning ways."

RW Erik Condra said the Lightning needs to be more consistent during this stretch.

"There have been some games where the penalty kill has cost us some games," Condra said. "There have been some games it's been awesome. We can't have that happen. Hopefully we'll be more consistent.

"We have to focus on some of the little things to make us more consistent. We can't look at the big picture and try to make up all these games in one day. We have to start (Saturday) and get our game back and get on a roll."

Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning can't afford to lose points if it wants to climb up the standings.

"We have to take advantage of these home games," he said. "We let one slip away last game, and that was kind of a bitter taste heading into the holidays, so we know what we have to do."

GETTING HEALTHY: Cooper had said what he wanted for Christmas was for Santa Claus to bring him some healthy bodies back from the injured list. Entering Saturday, the Lightning had lost 97 man games to injury and had seven on the injured list. Against the Blue Jackets, RW J.T. Brown returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury. Cooper said he hopes more players will return soon.

"(Santa) handing out his gifts slowly," Cooper said. "I'm cautiously optimistic they'll be back on this homestand. The one that is probably farthest out is (Ondrej) Palat. Other than that, we're excited to see most of the guys back in the fold."

THIS AND THAT: Forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Nikita Kucherov extended their scoring streaks on the same play, C Steven Stamkos' first goal of the game. Marchessault has points in his past six games. Kucherov has points in five.

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