Make us your home page
Instagram

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, minus Hedman, opens critical road trip with win over Kings

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 16:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal with teammates in front of Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings to take a 2-1 lead during the second period at Staples Center on January 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 16: Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal with teammates in front of Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings to take a 2-1 lead during the second period at Staples Center on January 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Just as the Lightning was ready to start a road trip that might make or break its season, the banged-up team was dealt another blow.

Top defenseman Victor Hedman, the one player Tampa Bay could ill afford to lose, felt too sick during warmups to play against the Kings on Monday.

"We were shocked," center Tyler Johnson said.

Quipped center Brian Boyle: "It's like, 'Ugh, here we go again.' "

That's why the Lightning's 2-1 win over the Kings was so impressive and, potentially, galvanizing. Without Hedman, Tampa Bay (21-20-4) somehow had one of its best defensive efforts. It provided a formula for how to navigate this six-game trip, which could go a long way toward deciding its playoff fate.

It won't get easier tonight, with a matchup against the Pacific Division-leading Ducks.

"Guys have to step up — we have to," wing Jonathan Drouin said. "It's not panic (mode), but it's pretty close to panic. This is a big road trip, guys have to step up, and we did Monday."

Drouin dazzled and was arguably the best player on the ice. He had four shots, three hits and a highlight-reel assist on Johnson's tying goal, extending his points streak to a season-high five games. Drouin shook Tanner Pearson with a stunning stop and spin, feeding Johnson on the back post.

"Not many guys can do that," Boyle said.

But the game was won with will as much as skill. The Lightning racked up a season-high 41 hits and 20 blocked shots. Defenseman Luke Witkowski set the tone with his opening-minute hit and fight with Kyle Clifford. And everyone else followed suit, Tampa Bay playing the kind of blue-collar game coaches have preached for weeks.

It limited the Kings' quality chances, building off momentum it gained in a two-game homestand Thursday and Friday. After allowing 22 goals in a four-game losing streak, the Lightning has given up six in the past three. Anton Stralman stepped up without his partner Hedman and provided a 25-minute monster performance. Andrej Sustr stepped up with four blocked shots in 21:53. The Kings' only goal came off a rare Ben Bishop puck-playing gaffe behind the net.

"We played a full 200-foot game, didn't give them too much," Bishop said.

Boyle gave the Lightning the lead for good with less than two minutes to go in the second, pouncing on a rebound after a 2-on-1.

And the penalty kill, much-maligned in the first half of the season, came up big in going 3-for-3, including a key one early in the third. "When you do that, you're giving yourself a chance to win," coach Jon Cooper said.

The chances of Hedman returning tonight are questionable, Cooper saying he "wasn't doing too well." But if Tampa Bay plays like it did Monday, it has a shot.

"Everybody gamed this one out," Cooper said. "They played extremely hard against a big, strong, physical L.A. team. It was fun to watch."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Lightning 1 1 0 2
Kings 1 0 0 1
Lightning 1 1 0 2
Kings 1 0 0 1

First Period—1, Los Angeles, Clifford 3, 8:33. 2, Tampa Bay, Johnson 13 (Witkowski, Drouin), 14:33. Penalties—Clifford, LA, Major (fighting), 1:19; Witkowski, TB, Major (fighting), 1:19; Forbort, LA, (tripping), 1:47; Paquette, TB, (hooking), 9:51.

Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Boyle 11 (Kucherov, Filppula), 18:47. Penalties—Witkowski, TB, (cross checking), 4:09.

Third Period—None. Penalties—Garrison, TB, (tripping), 3:49; Dowd, LA, (slashing), 14:38. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 13-11-5—29. Los Angeles 12-9-11—32. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Los Angeles 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 11-10-2 (32 shots-31 saves). Los Angeles, Budaj 20-12-3 (29-27). A—18,230 (18,118). T—2:29. Referees—Chris Schlenker, Brad Watson. Linesmen—Ryan Galloway, Vaughan Rody.

Lightning, minus Hedman, opens critical road trip with win over Kings 01/16/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.