Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning shut out by Wild (w/ video)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Goalie Ben Bishop said he has never been through something like this in his career.

"Not this many games, no," he said, wiping a hand through his hair.

Bishop lost his fifth consecutive start Saturday night, 1-0 to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. But it's hard to blame the hard-luck goaltender, who has given up just eight goals in that stretch. His team has scored three. Three.

The Lightning (7-7-2) has gone from frustrated to baffled. Tampa Bay, the league's highest-scoring team last year, has been shut out three times in the past two weeks and held to two or fewer goals in half its games. The Lightning was shut out just once last season.

"I'm confused," coach Jon Cooper said. "We sit here and say, 'Eventually this is going to end.' It's gone on longer than I've ever anticipated. I've been a part of some high-scoring teams over the years, and I don't know if I've ever seen a team as dry as this."

Cooper said the team's effort is there, pointing out that the Lightning is considerably outchancing opponents, like it did Saturday against the Wild, which was playing without top scorer Zach Parise, out with a sprained MCL. But goalie Devan Dubnyk stole the show — and the game — with 31 saves.

"He made some unbelievable saves," defenseman Anton Stralman said.

Said Cooper: "It seems like every single night we're playing a Vezina (Trophy, top goalie) winner. And our guy is playing like one, too."

The Lightning's road could get tougher without wing Ondrej Palat, who left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. He had to be helped off the ice to the locker room. It was unknown how long Palat would be out, but Cooper said there was a concern he would be more than day to day.

"It didn't look good," Cooper said. "He's the ultimate gamer. So when you see someone like him go off the way he did, it's never encouraging."

The Wild scored its only goal on the first shift of the second period, Jared Spurgeon's soft wrist shot beating a screened Bishop. Bishop is 5-7-1 despite a 2.24 goals-against average, saying he "could easily be 11-1 right now."

"Obviously you can be frustrated," Bishop said. "But at the same time, my job is to give the team a chance to win every night. I feel like I'm doing that. Coming out on the wrong end of it.

"You just have to stick with it. You can't get mad. These guys have scored a lot of goals for me over the years. It's just one of those things where the puck can't seem to go in right now."

The Lightning finished off a daunting first month of the season, with 11 of 16 games on the road. It went 5-4-2 on those trips, including winning two of four last week. But Tampa Bay is 2-3-0 at home, where it had the league's best record last season, so it must take advantage of seven of the next nine being at Amalie Arena.

"Our margin for error is small this year, like it is in the playoffs," Brian Boyle said. "It's early November. We didn't lose every game. But by no means are we where we want to be."

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First PeriodNone. PenaltiesPominville, Min (tripping), 4:57; Boyle, TB (hooking), 12:37.

Second Period1, Minnesota, Spurgeon 2 (Coyle, Pominville), :26. PenaltiesSpurgeon, Min (high-sticking), 18:05.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesStralman, TB (interference), 10:41; Carle, TB (holding), 14:44. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 13-7-11—31. Minnesota 7-11-7—25. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 2; Minnesota 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Bishop 5-7-1 (25 shots-24 saves). Minnesota, Dubnyk 8-3-1 (31-31).

 
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