Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Panik lightens load by lighting lamp

LOS ANGELES — Richard Panik said he always will take a victory over a goal.

Even so, the Lightning right wing admitted scoring his first of the season Saturday against the Coyotes, even in a 6-3 loss, was pretty sweet.

"It was like 'finally,' relief," Panik said, and added, "Hopefully, there is more coming."

Panik, 22, is a goalscorer, after all. He had 22 in 51 games last season for AHL Syracuse and five in 25 games after his callup to Tampa Bay. But through his first 18 games this season, Panik had zero and admitted it was getting to him a bit.

"The last few games I felt a little bit of pressure," he said before Tuesday night's game with the Kings at the Staples Center. "I just focused a lot. I needed to score that first goal. It was building up the pressure."

Panik still was contributing.

His eight assists entered Tuesday tied for third among league rookies. He led all rookies with four assists on the power play. His 33 hits were tied for the most among Tampa Bay's forwards and he averaged 14:15 of ice time.

Even his most negative stat — a minus-7 — was somewhat misleading as he was plus-2 in his previous nine games entering Tuesday.

"He's had his ups and downs, but for the most part he's been a warrior for us," coach Jon Cooper said.

Cooper still pulled on the leash now and again. He scratched Panik in the third game of the season and for a while had him on the fourth line, though he since has been reinstated to the third with former Syracuse linemates Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson.

"Did he have a tough start to the season? In many ways he did," Cooper said. "But we can't be in the business of pulling these kids out of the lineup every time they make a mistake because they're not going to get any better. We know what Richard has in him, and he's stuck with it here. I think he's playing his best hockey of the season."

Safe to say, though, Panik, 6 feet 1, 208 pounds, and with a highly skilled pair of hands, will not be completely happy until he is lighting the lamp with more regularity.

"If you have zero goals in 18 games it looks weird," Panik said, and added, "I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable now. I feel like I'm playing good hockey."

"It was about time for him to score a goal," Palat said. "It's good for his confidence and he'll keep going."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

When Lightning wing Ryan Callahan took a nasty spill into the boards Thursday night, it didn't look good.Turns out, it wasn't. Callahan will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper body injury, evaluated after three to four weeks, per GM Steve Yzerma...
Updated: 1 hour ago
When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brayden Point is the Lightning’s calmest player, both on the ice and off, according to Victor Hedman.Point’s soft-spoken nature belies his baby face and 5-foot-10 frame. "I’ve never seen him angry before," Hedman said.That ma...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

The Lightning's 4-1 victory over the Coyotes Thursday night still featured the usual post-game music in the dressing room.But there was more of a somber tone with veteran right wing Ryan Callahan's right arm in a sling. Callahan, who got hurt on a na...
Published: 12/15/17
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point."You l...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the dynamic Lightning defenseman. They both were top 10 picks in 2016, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other in th...
Published: 12/14/17
Mikhail Sergachev earning trust – and more minutes with Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev earning trust – and more minutes with Lightning

Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the Lightning defenseman.They both were picked in the top-10 of the 2016 NHL Draft, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other in three w...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top goalie in the leag...
Published: 12/13/17
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Published: 12/13/17
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Published: 12/12/17