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 penalty kill staves off Red Wings

TAMPA — If the Lightning's star unit in Game 4 against the Red Wings was a resurgent power play that scored all three goals in a 3-2 win Tuesday, the unsung hero was the other part of special teams: a penalty kill that has kept Tampa Bay in penalty-filled games.

"They've saved us," coach Jon Cooper said Wednesday. "It's kind of gone a little unnoticed, but it hasn't gone unnoticed in the locker room."

Killing penalties was one of the Lightning's strengths in the regular season. Only six teams in the league killed off more power plays than Tampa Bay (84 percent). That success has continued into the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay has allowed only one goal in Detroit's 21 power-play chances in taking a 3-1 series lead.

Some of the effectiveness comes from C Valtteri Filppula's ability to defuse threats by winning faceoffs, Cooper said. Some comes from the stability of penalty-killing pairs Filppula and RW Ryan Callahan and C Brian Boyle and LW Ondrej Palat.

"We had the whole season to tune up the structure," D Andrej Sustr said. "I think we've been doing a really good job. Guys are sticking to the structure, sticking together out there. Guys are making sacrifices, blocking shots."

Though the penalty kill has kept the Lightning in tight games, Cooper doesn't want to rely on it as much as he has had to. Detroit's 21 power plays were the most in the postseason entering Wednesday, and the Lightning killed seven of them in Game 3, a 2-0 Detroit win.

"Once you start getting up into the five, six, seven, now you're taking your team out of your flow," Cooper said.

QUICK FINISH: Detroit's motivation for winning tonight's Game 5 at Amalie Arena is obvious: A loss ends its season. The Lightning believes it also has something to play before beyond a trip to the second round: rest.

"To have the opportunity to end it in five games, it just gives you rest," Cooper said. "Everybody gets to regroup, reload for the next round instead of the continuing grind, then all of a sudden having to jump into a new series."

Tampa Bay knows that accomplishing that goal won't be easy. The Red Wings' best performance of the series came after dropping the first two games, outshooting the Lightning 30-16 in Game 3.

"They're going to be a team that's really desperate, just like they were in Game 3," RW Alex Killorn said. "We have to be ready for that, but we look forward to the challenge."

'BLACK ACES' called up: D Slater Koekkoek and 2014 first-round draft pick D Anthony DeAngelo were among the 12 players called up from AHL Syracuse to be the group of extra playoff players known in hockey as the "black aces." Koekkoek has appeared in 12 NHL games over the past two seasons. The other players are defensemen Dylan Blujus and Luke Witkowski; forwards Adam Erne, Tye McGinn, Matthew Peca, Brayden Point, Tanner Richard and Joel Vermin; and goalies Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox.

Lightning penalty kill staves off Red Wings 04/20/16 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2016 9:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play


    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans


    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.