DETROIT — The Lightning's penalty kill has been one of its strengths all season, as well as in its first-round playoff series against the Red Wings.
But the unit has been way too busy.
In the most penalized series in the playoffs, Tampa Bay has spent long stretches in the box, sapping momentum and chances for offense. During Game 2, the Lightning spent six of the last eight minutes of the second period killing off three penalties.
And in Sunday's 2-0 Game 3 loss at Detroit, the Lightning had to kill off back-to-back penalties early in the second and third. The Red Wings were 0-for-7 with the man advantage, but Tampa Bay was held to 16 shots.
"Just killing periods takes a lot out of you," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It just disrupts your flow, it's taxing on your penalty killers, and often times your penalty killers are your power-play guys, players that log a lot of minutes.
"The other part is you're spending your whole time in your defensive zone. It doesn't matter they didn't score here, they didn't score here. You're still spending time in your own end. It's taxing on your goaltender, on everyone. When you take 4-5 in a row, it's not going to bode well for you."
Entering Monday, the 215 combined penalty minutes between the Red Wings and Lightning was 40 percent of all 563 penalty minutes in the playoffs.
NO DANCE PARTY: C Brian Boyle was trending on Twitter Monday, waving his arms like a chicken at Justin Abdelkader after the Red Wings forward refused to drop his gloves and fight at the end of Game 3.
But Boyle wasn't in the mood to discuss the gesture, calling it a "spur of the moment thing." Boyle did confirm that a fan poured a beer on him at the end.
"We've got enough to worry about," Boyle said. "We've got to play way better. We got pretty much manhandled."
Abdelkader said he didn't fight because his hands were taped due to an injury, and he didn't want to get another misconduct penalty that could spark a suspension.
Red Wings F Luke Glendening said the Boyle chicken gesture has been "blown out of proportion," but offered a slight dig.
"It's a hockey game," Glendening said. "It's not a dance off."
STAMKOS TALK: Despite a report from Canada's TSN Monday that C Steven Stamkos (vascular surgery) is unlikely to come back even if the Lightning makes the Stanley Cup final, there has been no change in his expected recovery time of 1-3 months.
And Stamkos' surgeon, Dr. Karl Illig, said while he can't talk specifically about the captain, players with his condition (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) can return in two months, or less. Stamkos' surgery was April 4; the final is in early June.
"Definitely be possible to be back in two months," Illig told the Tampa Bay Times. "Often they are physically ready before that, just blood thinners make the difference."
NUTS AND BOLTS: G Ben Bishop, RW Ryan Callahan and C Cedric Paquette didn't practice, the team calling it a "rest day." Most of the practice focused on the power play. G Kristers Gudlevskis was recalled from AHL Syracuse as the first of what will likely be several "black aces."
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected],com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.