Monday, June 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets to end skid

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a losing streak mounting and the playoff race tightening, the Lightning desperately needed a response Sunday against the Blue Jackets.

"We have no choice," coach Jon Cooper said before the game.

Tampa Bay delivered in a 4-0 win at Nationwide Arena that ended a three-game losing skid. But it was far from easy, and it might have been costly. The Lightning (40-24-5) played the game's second half with nine forwards — it dressed 11 — because of a first-period upper-body injury to Valtteri Filppula and a second-period upper-body injury to Nikita Kucherov, who got sucker punched by Columbus' Dalton Prout.

Though Cooper said he didn't think either injury was long term, Tampa Bay will relish today's off day in Toronto.

"It was a game that was physical, it was hard-nosed," captain Steven Stamkos said. "So we showed a lot of character."

Said wing Ondrej Palat: "It wasn't pretty."

It was also much closer than the score indicated. It was a 1-0 game until midway through the third; then the Lightning scored three goals, two shorthanded, to seal the deal.

Stamkos had two goals, including his third career shorthanded goal, to give him his fifth 30-goal season (31). Goalie Ben Bishop, booed every time he touched the puck, was stellar again with 37 saves in getting his fourth shutout of a Vezina Trophy-caliber season.

"He's one of the best in the league," Stamkos said. "He's proved that this year."

The Lightning played much better than it did during its three-game losing streak, which Cooper called a "momentary gaffe." Tampa Bay racked up 37 shots and got more pucks and bodies to the net. It amassed 12 of the game's first 14 shots. Special teams finished it off, scoring multiple shorthanded goals in a game for the first time since December 2003, its Stanley Cup season.

And when injuries forced the Lightning to play three lines, it played smart. "We said in the locker room, 'We've got to play simple,' " said Palat, who had the other shorthanded goal. "I think we did that."

With the win, the Lightning remained in third place in the Atlantic Division, one point behind first-place Boston, which has won seven of 10. Though Tampa Bay's franchise-record nine-game winning streak was snapped last week and followed by the losing streak, the Lightning has a chance to reset on this four-game trip, with 13 games overall left in the regular season.

"Our momentary gaffe we had of relaxation is gone," Cooper said. "You ride the wave for a long time, and all of a sudden you're off the surfboard the next. That's what we've done here the past week. It's 82 games. This is going to happen. We've had more ups than we've had downs, and we've just got to get back to that consistent level of play that we played for most of the season."

Sunday was a good start.

Lightning0134
Blue Jackets0000
Lightning0134
Blue Jackets0000

FirstNone. PenaltiesHartnell, Clm (tripping), :21; Namestnikov, TB (holding), 16:03; Namestnikov, TB (roughing), 20:00; Dubinsky, Clm (roughing), 20:00.

Second1, TB, Stamkos 30 (Kucherov), 5:29. PenaltiesKucherov, TB (roughing), 7:38; Foligno, Clm (tripping), 7:38; Prout, Clm, minor-misconduct (roughing), 7:38; Stamkos, TB (interference), 10:07.

Third2, TB, Namestnikov 12 (T.Johnson), 8:45. 3, TB, Stamkos 31 (Palat), 10:54 (sh). 4, TB, Palat 12 (Stamkos), 14:39 (sh). PenaltiesKillorn, TB (hooking), 9:17; Callahan, TB, double minor (high-sticking), 12:56; Bourque, Clm, misconduct, 19:21; Savard, Clm (slashing), 19:21; Calvert, Clm (slashing), 20:00. SOGTB 15-13-9—37. Clm 5-16-16—37. PPsTB 0 of 3; Clm 0 of 5. GoaliesTB, Bishop 29-18-4 (37 shots-37 saves). Clm, Bobrovsky 11-15-1 (37-33).

Comments
A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But NHL?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forward who was born in ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Published: 06/23/18
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Published: 06/22/18
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18