Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning heads into bye with win over Jets (w/ video)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Coach Jon Cooper bluntly drove the point home during a Saturday morning team meeting:

Get to the net.

The Lightning has recently been too much of a perimeter team offensively. And that cost it critical points in four 2-1 losses over seven games.

That wasn't going to cut it for a team fighting for its playoff life.

But Tampa Bay showed it got the message in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Jets at the MTC Center. Brayden Point was in the crease for the tone-setting first goal of the game, and Brian Boyle redirected a shot for the second.

"When we're attacking the net, that's when we're at our best," Cooper said.

The Lightning (25-24-7) is playing some of its best hockey, having won three of its past four games as it heads into a five-day bye week. It has points in four straight games for the first time since a mid-November four-game winning streak.

But as encouraging as this stretch has been for Tampa Bay, the team hasn't made up much ground in the standings. It is five points behind Boston for the third and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Now it has to be idle, scoreboard watch and likely drop in the standings.

"We're winning just to stay where we are," Boyle said.

Cooper said a key part of Saturday's win was getting the lead, with a dazzling shift by Jonathan Drouin midway through the first period setting the tone.

It began with a backcheck. Drouin darted from behind the Winnipeg net to strip forward Blake Wheeler in the left circle. He then circled around the zone, blazed past two Jets, including forward Mark Scheifele, and dropped a pass at the back post to Point.

"Just instincts," Drouin said. And a whole lot of skill.

"Once he gets the puck in the offensive zone and has a little bit of time and space, he can do some magical things," Cooper said. "A heck of a play."

Said Boyle: "Fun to watch, really."

Boyle got the next goal, stepping into the slot to redirect a Victor Hedman point shot. Ondrej Palat's goal off a rush early in the second helped seal the win. And goalie Ben Bishop did the rest with 32 saves.

Tampa Bay's goaltending has been excellent lately, Bishop following up Tuesday's shutout against the Kings with Saturday's performance. Andrei Vasilevskiy racked up 37 saves in Friday's shootout loss in Minnesota. Tampa Bay has allowed four regulation goals in the past four games. "It's giving us a chance to win hockey games," Cooper said.

And Saturday, the offense finally didn't hold back Tampa Bay. Even without center Tyler Johnson (lower body) for the second straight game, the Lightning kept coming, Hedman's empty-netter sealing it in the final minute.

Now Tampa Bay gets some rest. Some players will head out of town for relaxing vacations, knowing plenty of work is left to be done.

"Ever since that West Coast trip (last month), we've been playing good hockey," Bishop said. "Sometimes we haven't been rewarded. (Saturday) we did a good job getting to the net, getting tips, and pretty goals and kind of everything. Hopefully we can keep building on this."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning2114
Jets0011

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Point 7 (Drouin), 12:05. 2, Tampa Bay, Boyle 13 (Dotchin, Hedman), 17:02. PenaltiesKucherov, TB, (hooking), 1:24.

Second Period3, Tampa Bay, Palat 11 (Sustr, Point), 2:11. PenaltiesDotchin, TB, (tripping), 3:53; Byfuglien, WPG, (high sticking), 9:43; Dumont, TB, (roughing), 20:00; Byfuglien, WPG, (roughing), 20:00.

Third Period4, Winnipeg, Trouba 5 (Wheeler, Byfuglien), 11:15. 5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 8 (Paquette, Palat), 19:24. PenaltiesNamestnikov, TB, (holding), 3:01; Morrissey, WPG, (hooking), 12:13. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 14-9-7—30. Winnipeg 8-12-13—33. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 2; Winnipeg 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Bishop 14-12-3 (33 shots-32 saves). Winnipeg, Hellebuyck 17-15-1 (29-26).

Comments
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Golden Knights are giving Vegas a great odds-beating story in their first year.The expansion team has the whole league playing catchup.James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored to help Vegas beat the Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday and...
Updated: 7 hours ago
What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

It didn't take the sound of a door slamming in the dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay felt like it worked hard – at least, harder than Thursday's listless loss to Vegas – yet dropped another ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

The Lightning's telling trip just got tougher.Wing Ondrej Palat flew back to Tampa for more tests Monday and will be out indefinitely, a big blow to the Lightning's shutdown line. Palat suffered a lower-body injury getting speared by Minnesota's Jare...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first 20-plus games this season, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness knew "the look" was coming.The other team’s top line would jump over the boards and Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev would peek over at Bow...
Published: 01/20/18
Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

One week from today, Tampa will be the center of the hockey world.The All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. Players will smile for the cameras. They'll put on a fantastic show. Maybe they'll catch a bead or two from a Gasparilla parade.But you ...
Published: 01/20/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

The rest of the Lightning players had already left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room for a quick change before the team's charter flight to Minnesota.But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 23, stayed on late, facing about 15 minutes mo...
Published: 01/20/18
Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Keith Harris fondly looks back on some memorable days from his Tampa upbringing when he worked as a lifeguard at a pool next to a Boys & Girls Club. ¶Whenever it rained, he watched as the kids retreated to the safe haven of the club. They entered int...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18