Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning hopes to refocus for Blackhawks

TAMPA — The admittedly embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Bruins on Saturday night was tough enough for the Lightning to swallow.

But now Tampa Bay must wait four days to get that bitter taste out of its mouth. It doesn't play again until Thursday, when it hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.

For some — such as defenseman Victor Hedman, who was a minus-5 Saturday — the game can't come soon enough.

"Usually when you have a tough game like I had, you want to get right back into it," Hedman said. "But you have to be professional about it, you have to face adversity sometimes.

"We obviously can learn from this. The good thing is that it is Game 8 and not Game 75 with a lot on the line. But we can't come out like this and expect to win a hockey game. We have to refocus and we will come to work again (today)."

The Lightning, which took Sunday off and returns to practice today, was more disappointed in how it lost than the actual result. Boston went onto Tampa Bay's home ice and won all the key battles, showing more grit than the Lightning. Center Steven Stamkos said, "They wanted it more."

It was a stark contrast to the Lightning's stellar start to the season. It won five of its first seven games by playing a strong all-around game.

"It will be the way we continue to play, being tenacious, being gritty, having that so-called jam, that fight," coach Jon Cooper said.

"I think maybe sometimes, you won a few games in a row, you're feeling good about yourself, and then somebody comes in and … it's, like, 'Oh, okay, this just doesn't come easy.' You can't just throw your stick and helmet and say, 'Okay, boys, shinny's on, let's go play.' And I think for (Saturday), we did that."

Cooper made it clear that though he was disappointed about the game, he wasn't upset with his team, which has "done everything we've asked" since training camp. He is confident the blowout loss was an anomaly.

"It's one of 82," Cooper said. "Hopefully, that's the only that's like it."

Goalie Ben Bishop, who had won his first five starts, had a rare rough night, allowing four goals and getting pulled late in the second period. The Lightning could switch it up against the Blackhawks and give Anders Lindback his first start since Oct. 12. But Bishop beat Chicago Oct. 5.

Either way, something has to change.

"We've got to put this in the past," Bishop said. "We've got a very hard test coming up in the defending Stanley Cup champions. We can be a lot better, and we will be."

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