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. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  2. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Looks like LF Corey Dickerson is coming out of his funk at the plate — .186 average in past 16 games entering Friday. He had two hits Wednesday in Oakland and three hits Friday against the Rangers. Okay, one was an infield hit that bounced high in front of the plate, but the other was a long home run to …

  5. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome


    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.