Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning needs more shots on power play, from defense

TAMPA — Tampa Bay entered Thursday on a 1-for-14 power-play skid but got two power-play goals against Chicago. It entered with one goal from a defenseman — Sami Salo's empty-netter — but got tallies from Matt Carle and Victor Hedman.

That said, Tampa Bay generated just 25 shots in the 6-5 overtime win, even fewer than its pregame average of 25.9 that was 29th in the 30-team league. Asked how he can prod more shots out of his players, Cooper joked, "Aside from walking around with them going 'shoot, shoot, shoot,' I don't know what else to do. It takes time to break those habits."

Such as players being unselfish. "They'd just rather tic-tac-toe it and set up their buddy the whole time," Cooper said. "But sometimes you have to make the selfish act and shoot yourself.

"What we're having trouble (with) as a staff is our team passing up Grade A scoring chances, or Grade A chances to get pucks to the net for a B or C chance."

That has been most apparent with the defensemen, who have just 58 shots in Tampa Bay's nine games. The Bruins have seven goals from the blue line in nine games with 107 shots.

"We want to contribute goals, too," said Hedman, whose 12 shots entered Thursday most for Lightning defensemen. "It's find the seams, move your feet on the blue line and get open to make sure we can get pucks to the net. We need to be accountable in that part of the game."

If not, "ultimately you become an easy team to scout," Cooper said. "If they know the D aren't going to shoot, they can collapse more (around the net). We've got guys who can wire it. We've got to get those guys involved."

HOMECOMING: Though it has been almost 10 years since Nikolai Khabibulin helped the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, the Chicago goalie said "coming back, whether I play or not, is pretty special."

Told he looks leaner, Khabibulin, 40, said, "I have to be. I have to keep up with the young guys."

About Marty St. Louis, the last remaining player on the Lightning from the Cup team, Khabibulin said, "I think the change in (obstruction) rules after the (2004-05) lockout probably benefited his longevity. He doesn't have to take as much abuse as he used to."

WORLD SERIOUS: Alex Killorn always was a Red Sox fan, but after four years at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., the Lightning wing is all in and watching closely the World Series matchup with the Cardinals. Perhaps not as closely as G Ben Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis. "I watch all the games, but it's not going to change my life if we lose," Killorn said. "It might change his."

ODDS AND ENDS: The 43 shots the Lightning allowed were a season high. … Tampa Bay is 3-0-0 in overtime. … St. Louis, with 924 career points, moved into 93rd all time. … AHL Syracuse G Riku Helenius is out with an upper-body injury. Kristers Gudlev­skis was called up from ECHL Florida. … RW Richard Panik had the biggest catch — a 41-inch red fish — during the Lightning's outing. … Fans can design a Lightning T-shirt that, if judged the best, will be sold at the team store. Go to tampabaylightning.com/shirtofthefan. … Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were scratched.

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