Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning takes to the road, tries to find answers to slide

TAMPA — This is not how the Lightning envisioned things when it began the season with a stirring come-from-behind victory against the Red Wings.

Back then Tampa Bay was a Stanley Cup favorite, energized by an offseason that saw the return of all the major players that took the team to a Cup final in the spring.

And now?

The Lightning is in a free fall, having won once in its past eight games after Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Penguins as it blew a 3-1 second-period lead.

"Every team goes through these types of stretches through the season," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Ours has been a little longer than everybody wanted. We're fighting. We're trying to get better every day and put it into effect."

Coach Jon Cooper was asked after Saturday's loss if he can remember a worse run during his tenure in Tampa Bay.

"This is probably one of our worst if not our worst in the last couple of years," he said. "You go through the resume the last three or four of years of the all the ups and downs this team had. This is just a different one, that's all, and we've always found a way to struggle and emerge, and I'm sure we'll find it again."

The struggle is real. Whether it's goaltending, the power play, the penalty kill, scoring during 5-on-5, falling behind during the first period or the exhausting early season schedule that had the team playing every other night, the Lightning has had a tough time putting together complete games.

"We can't sit here and say, 'Well this was good, this was good, this was bad,' " Cooper said. "We have to make sure it's all good together."

Jonathan Drouin, who shrugged off a gash under his left eye from a first period high-stick that needed stitches to record the first two-goal game of his career, said the team played with energy and emotion. While blowing a two-goal lead is not ideal, Drouin noted it came against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Stralman agreed.

"I think if we played like this against a lot of the other teams, the games we lost from poor play, this effort would have won us a lot of games," he said.

But not against the high-powered Penguins.

The Lightning scored three and lost. Normally, three goals would stand, given the goaltending. But Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy have not been their normal lockdown selves, though the play in front of the net hasn't helped, either.

"You can't win in this league if you're going to give up four or five a night, and that's the tough thing," Cooper said. "We are giving up four and five a night. It's tough to win games when that happens. When you score three, you should get points out of that game, and we scored three and didn't get any."

It was the sixth time in the past eight games the Lightning had allowed at least four goals.

Now Tampa Bay heads to western Canada for a three-game trip — Calgary (Wednesday), Vancouver (Friday), Edmonton (Saturday) — and hopes to find its game there.

"You got to keep marching on," Cooper said.

Comments
Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

The Red Wings have started wheeling and dealing, shipping goalie Petr Mrazek to the Flyers for a package of conditional draft picks.That has shifted focus to a potential Lightning target, Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, who is expected to be moved b...
Published: 02/20/18
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Published: 02/19/18
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Published: 02/19/18
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Published: 02/19/18
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18