Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Poor penalty kill a big part of Lightning slump

TAMPA — The third goal by the Penguins was the one that tied the score Saturday night and took all the momentum from the Lightning in what became a one-goal loss.

It came early in the third period while the Lightning was trying to kill off its fourth penalty of the game. Two days later, Lightning forward Brian Boyle was still upset about his inability to clear the puck when he had the chance.

"They call them details," Boyle said.

Win faceoffs. Clear pucks. Block shots. Those are three ingredients found in nearly every successful penalty kill, and they were missing when the Penguins converted on their final three power plays to rally from a 3-1 hole for a 4-3 victory.

"That's self-inflicted," assistant coach Rick Bowness said after Monday's practice.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper has talked often this season about the need to be more consistent in the overall play, especially during this current stretch where the team has won once in eight games. He said he saw a lot of positives Saturday. It could have been a victory, or the Lightning would have gained a point in the standings had it forced overtime.

But it didn't. Why?

"Kill penalties off. That's what you got to do," Cooper said after the game. "We didn't do that."

The Lightning killed off the Penguins' first two power plays. It allowed goals in the next three, and that was the game. In each, Sidney Crosby won faceoffs in the offensive zone that led directly to scores.

On Dec. 1, the Lightning committed seven penalties and allowed three power-play goals in a 5-4 loss at St. Louis.

The penalty kill wasn't an issue in the next three games. But the inconsistencies arose during the second half of Saturday's loss.

"Two of our biggest issues are we lose too many faceoffs and we don't ice the puck when we have an opportunity," Bowness said. "Both of those lead to spending too much time in our zone. If we can work on winning the faceoffs and getting the puck down the ice when we have a chance, it's going to make it a lot easier."

One way to avoid that is to avoid penalties, especially against a team like Pittsburgh that features Crosby (one power-play goal Saturday) and Evgeni Malkin (two).

"Do we need to stay disciplined? Absolutely. Stay out of the box," Bowness said. "But when we take a good penalty it's up to the killers to get the job done and kill it."

The downside to having to kill penalties is that some of the better offensive players sit so the best defenders can get on the ice.

"Those are highly skilled guys that have to wait and watch. That's things you want to try and avoid," Boyle said. "The other team is getting the puck. Even if they aren't scoring, they're getting touches. Their top players are on the ice making plays, so it's always difficult. Granted, you get a big kill at a certain point, it shifts momentum, so you can look at it a number of ways. But it's always better to stay out of the box."

NOTEWORTHY: The Lightning on Monday recalled defenseman Slater Koekkoek and forward Erik Condra from AHL Syracuse.

Comments
A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But NHL?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forward who was born in ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Published: 06/23/18
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
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-...
Published: 06/22/18
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 ...
Published: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18