Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

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

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 [email protected].

Lightning1102
Kings1001
Lightning1102
Kings1001

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.

Comments
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Nikita Kucherov scores two goals and delivers some big hits as the Lightning beats the Devils, 3-1, in a physical Game 4 that pushes Tampa Bay to within one win of clinching the series.Meanwhile, the Rays beat the Rangers to as Jake Faria pitche...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils pulled out all the stops for Wednesday's Game 4 of their Stanley Cup quarter final series with the Lightning by inviting David Puddy at the Prudential Center.For those who do not know who he is, Puddy was Elaine's...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

NEWARK, N.J. — Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Taking Care of Business shook the walls of the Lightning locker room not long after it dispatched the Devils in Wednesday's Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.The 3-1 win was sparked by Nikita K...
Published: 04/18/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Devils Game 4

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Devils Game 4

I guess the lesson here is never believe a hockey player when he says what happens in a scrum at the end of a playoff game doesn't carry over into the next game. It sure looks like the Lightning and Devils won't be vacationing together this summer.Th...
Published: 04/18/18
Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Times columnist Tom Jones gives his thoughts while watching the broadcast of Game 4 of the series between the Lightning and Devils:Hard work beats everythingWe watch the Lightning all season long and marvel at its skill. Nikita Kucherov, Steven ...
Published: 04/18/18
Restraint? Ha. Lightning-Devils mix it up in early going of Game 4

Restraint? Ha. Lightning-Devils mix it up in early going of Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. — Both sides were in agreement Tuesday that the shenanigans during the final minute of Monday's Game 3 would not carry over to Game 4."I think the emotion of a game in a series carries over, (but) what happened at end I don't think...
Published: 04/18/18
Tyler Johnson in Lightning lineup tonight, Ryan Callahan out

Tyler Johnson in Lightning lineup tonight, Ryan Callahan out

UPDATE: NEWARK, N.J. — Tyler Johnson is in the lineup tonight for Game 4 against the Devils, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Ryan Callahan is not.Callahan is missing his second game of this best-of-seven game series after suffering wha...
Published: 04/18/18
Live blog: Lightning looks to rebound in Game 4

Live blog: Lightning looks to rebound in Game 4

Follow our live coverage of the opening-round NHL playoff series between the Lightning and New Jersey Devils. Times reporters, editors, sports columnists and photo journalists will chronicle the action on and off the ice through updates, analysis, ph...
Published: 04/18/18
Saturday’s Game 5 start time for Lightning-Devils? 3 p.m.

Saturday’s Game 5 start time for Lightning-Devils? 3 p.m.

Saturday's Game 5 between the Lightning and Devils at Amalie Arena will start at 3 p.m. and be televised locally on NBC.Also, on Saturday, the Blue Jackets at Capitals game will start at 3 p.m., and the Maple Leafs at Bruins game will begin at 8 and ...
Published: 04/18/18