Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning try 'strip shootout'

TAMPA — Had wing Alex Killorn and defenseman Mark Barberio not scored when they did during Wednesday's shootout competition, things could have gotten a bit embarrassing at Lightning practice.

Killorn and Barberio were the last contestants in what was basically a game of "strip shootout."

When a player failed to score, a piece of gear came off. When a player scored, he was out of the contest and spared the potential embarrassment.

By the end, Killorn and Barberio were down to their long underwear.

"The next step was my jock, probably then my shirt and then my skates," Killorn said.

And after that?

"It would have ended there," Killorn said, laughing.

Playing strip shootout was the idea of coach Jon Cooper, who was trying to lighten the mood of a team on a 3-8-2 streak and that has lost its past two games while going 0-for-10 in shootouts.

Tampa Bay regularly has a shootout competition the day before a game to figure out who has a hot hand.

"So part of the reason to do this was to put a little more focus on scoring," Cooper said of the strip shootout format, something he said he hadn't used since he coached in juniors. "Sometimes we run this and the guys, they try and probably do something that's not as realistic a move, which is okay. But because we've gone 0-for-10, I felt this was a good way to put pressure, as gamelike as we could."

And as right wing Ryan Callahan said, "I think there was a little more pressure than an actual shootout."

Part of that was the growing audience in the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the team's Cut For a Cure event to benefit pediatric cancer research.

"There's families and kids. Oh, my, what a day to do this," Cooper said. "But it was fun."

"Yeah, it was fun," captain Steven Stamkos said. "Coop (is) good at knowing when things need to be serious and when he can lighten up. He has a pretty good radar at what needs to be done."

Tampa Bay has had some success at shootouts.

Its six shootout wins entered Wednesday tied for seventh in the league. But it has lost four of its past five to go 6-5, and its 25 percent conversion rate on shots (10-for-40) was 24th.

And 0-for-10 in its past two shootouts means the Lightning, in a heated playoff race, left two points on the table heading into tonight's game with the Panthers at the Times Forum.

"You don't realize till the end of the season how much each point matters," Killorn said. "But when a playoff spot is separated by a point or two, every point is so important."

As is every stitch of clothing.

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