DETROIT — Lightning RW Richard Panik was excited Sunday to finally stop being a spectator.
Panik had sat out four of the previous five games, the last two due to a suspension for a from-behind hit Tuesday on Capitals D Karl Azner. But Panik believed he was able to learn and refocus, with hopes of snapping out of his slow start to the season.
"It's pretty much a new beginning," Panik said. "Hopefully everything will just turn around."
Panik has one goal and 10 points and is minus-7 in 28 games, with just 30 shots on goal. Coach Jon Cooper wanted him to stop making fancy plays and just get the puck on net. Panik nearly scored in the first period of the 3-0 win against the Red Wings with a wrist shot from the right circle, but goalie Petr Mrazek made a sliding pad save. Panik played a team-low 9:09.
"He's a great kid. He's going to be (a great) hockey player," Cooper said. "He's just trying to find his way in the league, like so many guys have before him and so many will ahead of him."
BIG PLAY: C Dana Tyrell won't stand out on the score sheet, but he made a huge defensive play in the third period. Two minutes after the Lightning took a 1-0 lead, Tyrell blocked a Brian Lashoff shot that appeared to be heading toward an open net. "We scored a couple goals and (gave) little pats on the back and stuff like that," Cooper said. "But when Dana made that block, everybody got off the bench and gave him a pat on the back. So it kind of tells you a little bit about our team when that happens."
TOUGH LUCK: Though G Ben Bishop continues to receive recognition for his performance this season, Cooper said not to discount what Anders Lindback has done lately. Lindback 2-6-1 in 10 starts, is the victim of some hard luck, with Tampa Bay scoring a combined five goals in his past five losses, including 3-0 Saturday in New Jersey. "I feel bad for 'Lindy,' " Cooper said. "Every time he goes in, he plays stellar, but we just don't score for him. It's really hard on your goaltender to win some games."
LOCAL FLAVOR: D Matt Taormina grew up in the Detroit suburbs a big Red Wings fan and still roots for the Lions and Tigers. So that made Sunday special for Taormina, who played at Joe Louis Arena for the first time as a pro in front of about 100 friends and family. "It's definitely exciting," he said. "It's the first time I've been able to come back and actually be able to play here. I had chances a couple years ago, but I got hurt or sent down. It's exciting to have … kind of like a hometown crowd."
NUTS AND BOLTS: The Lightning improved to 4-0-1 in the second half of back-to-back games. … RW B.J. Crombeen, D Victor Hedman and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were scratched. … Detroit C Johan Franzen left the game in the second period after taking an elbow from Lightning D Radko Gudas. Gudas wasn't penalized. Franzen got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at Gudas from the bench.