Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning loses fourth straight, 6-2 to Penguins (w/ video)

PITTSBURGH — General manager Steve Yzerman stood in his press box suite for most of the third period Sunday.

He glared down at the Lightning's 6-2 loss to the Penguins, staying helplessly through the final seconds. Yzerman couldn't have been happy with what he saw, a fourth straight defeat that dropped Tampa Bay (19-19-4) to .500, closer to the Eastern Conference basement than the second wild-card playoff spot.

It's hard to believe the Lightning was at this arena eight months ago for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. To be fair, it isn't the same team. Five players in Sunday's lineup have spent most of this season with AHL Syracuse, called up because of injuries.

Whether Yzerman can do anything to shake up this underachieving, banged-up team remains to be seen. The trade market, Yzerman says, is "very quiet." But it should be a long, and potentially interesting, three days before the Lightning hosts Buffalo on Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Players still believe the answers lie with the current team and coaching staff.

"We've done it before," said wing Jonathan Drouin, who scored his 12th goal. "We have the team to do it. It's definitely time to go."

Time to go passed long ago. But the Lightning didn't play like a team that has quit, showing more urgency and fight than it did Saturday in Philadelphia in the first of back-to-back games. It took a 1-0 lead on the Penguins, who were coming off a bye week, and trailed by just one after 40 minutes.

"We played hard the whole game," wing Ondrej Palat said. "Way better than (in) Philly."

But the Lightning didn't play smartly. Between turnovers and bad coverage in its zone, Tampa Bay ensured another long day for goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"Every mistake went in," defenseman Anton Stralman said.

Even so, coach Jon Cooper didn't see a deflated bench.

"No matter what, there was still positive chatter on the bench, guys trying to pick each other up," Cooper said. "Guys were getting (ticked) off as well, and as well they should. But you've got to keep plugging away to get out of this."

Players say they're still responding to Cooper's message.

"Everybody's on the same page," Drouin said.

Said Palat: "It's up to us players to execute."

The Lightning is six points out of the second wild-card spot and four behind Ottawa for third in the Atlantic Division, with the Senators having three games in hand. Injuries could have caught up with the Lightning, which is 9-13-3 without captain Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), and it was without veterans Ryan Callahan, Braydon Coburn, Brian Boyle, Ben Bishop and J.T. Brown on Sunday.

Whatever the reasons, Tampa Bay is in a frustrating free fall, and it doesn't appear close to snapping out of it. Players are left searching for answers.

"It's obviously tough being in a stretch like this," Stralman said. "But what are you going to do? You can't give up. There's half of a season left to play. We're still not out."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Penguins0246
Lightning0112

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesMalkin, PIT, (hooking), 7:57; Killorn, TB, (hooking), 8:11; Paquette, TB, (hooking), 15:09.

Second Period1, Tampa Bay, Drouin 12 (Hedman, Filppula), 2:19. 2, Pittsburgh, Sheary 10 (Crosby, Rust), 6:44. 3, Pittsburgh, Fehr 5 (Cullen), 11:14. PenaltiesKunitz, PIT, (slashing), 9:01; Kunitz, PIT, (slashing), 15:25.

Third Period4, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 4 (Bonino, Maatta), 2:33. 5, Pittsburgh, Wilson 5, 3:28. 6, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 5 (Stralman, Drouin), 5:40 (pp). 7, Pittsburgh, Kessel 13 (Crosby, Sheary), 7:50. 8, Pittsburgh, Letang 3 (Cullen, Schultz), 17:20 (pp). PenaltiesMaatta, PIT, (high sticking), 3:55; Hedman, TB, (tripping), 15:21. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 10-12-8—30. Pittsburgh 15-14-11—40. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 4; Pittsburgh 1 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 10-9-2 (40 shots-34 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 13-5-4 (30-28).

Comments
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-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Published: 06/21/18
Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

DALLAS — The New York Islanders have hired Barry Trotz as their new head coach. President of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello announced the move Thursday at the NHL draft, two weeks after Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals and thr...
Published: 06/21/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wedne...
Published: 06/21/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Published: 06/20/18
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Published: 06/20/18
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18