Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning loses another defensive battle, this time to Capitals (w/video)

TAMPA — Goalie Ben Bishop thought Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Capitals was one of the Lightning's better games of the year, "maybe the best."

Captain Steven Stamkos believed his team couldn't have worked any harder and executed for most of it while outshooting Washington 36-20, 15-1 in the third. "I told the guys, 'If we play like this, we're going to win a lot more down the stretch,' " Stamkos said.

But will they? Coach Jon Cooper feels like he's always saying his team "deserved a better fate" after losses in this disappointing season. This was the seventh time the Lightning lost when allowing two goals or fewer, the sixth time in regulation.

Tampa Bay (14-13-3) squandered another opportunity to gain ground as it tries to climb back into playoff position before it is too late.

"Clearly it's a concern because it's not October anymore," Cooper said. "Christmas is right around the corner, and all of a sudden now we're looking at the dog days of January and February and we're going the wrong way in the standings."

The main problem continues to be scoring, the Lightning held to one goal or fewer for the 11th time, two goals or fewer for the 17th time in 30 games. And it won't get any easier with several key forwards out injured.

All-Star center Tyler Johnson was scratched Saturday and will likely miss the upcoming three-game road trip after re-aggravating an injury Thursday. Wing Jonathan Drouin was scratched after warmups with a lower-body injury. Ondrej Palat, who just returned Thursday after being out since Nov. 7 with a left ankle injury, got hurt on his third shift Saturday, coming back momentarily but playing just 3 minutes, 34 seconds. He's day to day.

"I'm just speechless in how this is going," Cooper said.

As a result, line combinations have been constantly shuffled, zapping any chemistry. That has hurt Stamkos, who started Saturday on a line with Palat and red-hot Nikita Kucherov before Palat went down.

Stamkos, who is losing playmakers left and right, has played more of a setup role recently, feeding Kucherov, who has five goals in his past four games, including a power-play goal Saturday. Stamkos has five assists in his eight-game goal drought, his longest since going eight Dec. 2-13, 2009. Stamkos has just six shots in five games, with Kucherov racking up four (on 12 shot attempts) Saturday. In the third, Stamkos found a streaking Andrej Sustr, who hit the post.

"That's the thing, someone has got to make plays and someone's got to shoot it," Stamkos said. "I thought Kuch had a lot of quality chances tonight. I don't mind feeding him the puck in the slot. There's some chances for a shot, but I try to make the best plays available for a goal."

Bishop, who entered Saturday tied with Washington's Braden Holtby for the lowest goals against average, had little margin for error. Bishop gave up a highlight-reel goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov and a weird-angled bank shot by Jay Beagle. "Pretty lucky," Bishop said. "Can't really do anything different."

Capitals 1 1 0 2
Lightning 0 0 1 1


First1, Washington, Beagle 4 (Galiev), 2:09. PenaltiesT.Wilson, Was, major (fighting), 10:05; Blunden, TB, served by Marchessault, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 10:05; Filppula, TB (hooking), 12:06; Backstrom, Was (goaltender interference), 19:57.

Second2, Washington, Kuznetsov 9 (Carlson), 11:16. PenaltiesNiskanen, Was (tripping), 4:47; Schmidt, Was, major (fighting), 13:55; J.Brown, TB, major (fighting), 13:55.

Third3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 11 (Stralman, Stamkos), 8:05 (pp). PenaltiesKuznetsov, Was (tripping), 4:36; Niskanen, Was (tripping), 7:33. ShotsWashington 9-10-1—20. Tampa Bay 11-10-15—36. Power playsWashington 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. GoaliesWashington, Holtby 18-4-1 (36 shots-35 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 12-9-2 (20-18). A19,092 (19,204). T2:32.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby stops Lightning wing Ryan Callahan in the second period. Holtby and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop entered Saturday tied for the NHL lead in goals-against average.

Associated Press

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby stops Lightning wing Ryan Callahan in the second period. Holtby and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop entered Saturday tied for the NHL lead in goals-against average.

Lightning loses another defensive battle, this time to Capitals (w/video) 12/12/15 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2015 7:53am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ever since the Bucs made Gerald McCoy the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, he has struggled to overcome the shadow cast by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
  2. HomeTeam 100: Players 41-50


    Bulldog QB Charles Harrison III, (12) during the fourth quarter of the Zephyrhills at Nature Coast High School football game on Friday, 11/11/16.
  3. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)


    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?


    After the Rangers swept them over the weekend, the Rays won't have much time to rest, with 14 games scheduled for the next 14 days. The second half of their homestand begins tonight against the Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Starter Wade Miley has melted down after a hot start.
  5. Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.