Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Scoring slump bothers Lightning's Callahan

TAMPA — You'd wonder if RW Ryan Callahan's goal Tuesday against San Jose lifted a weight off the veteran's shoulders.

It certainly looks like it. After snapping an 18-game goal drought with just his third goal in 48 games, Callahan followed that up with a two-assist performance Thursday. Callahan also added a shootout goal in the 6-5 victory, his first multi-point game since Dec. 10.

Though Callahan has been playing well in other areas, including leading the Lightning in hits, he said the scoring slump has weighed on him.

Callahan, a four-time 20-plus-goal scorer, has six.

"There's no question I needed to produce more and find the back of the net," Callahan said. "I've had plenty of chances throughout this stretch, and for whatever reason they haven't been going in. You always hope one like (Tuesday's goal) can get you going."

Callahan entered Thursday fourth on the Lightning in shots on goal, behind C Steven Stamkos, RW Nikita Kucherov and D Victor Hedman. Callahan scored 10 of his 24 goals last season on the power play, but he has just one with the man advantage this season, though he's often on the first unit.

Coaches rave about Callahan's consistent effort and energy, and his work on the forecheck and penalty kill, not to mention his leadership as an alternate captain. But Callahan entered Thursday with 18 points in 55 games and minus-8.

Callahan was moved back to the top line Tuesday with Stamkos, combining for five points Thursday.

"You always say you worry when you don't have chances," Callahan said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to start burying some of them, too.

"It's a big part of my game. I've always been a guy who can put the puck in the net, so when it's not going in for you, it definitely bothers you."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Vladislav Namestnikov missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury, suffered Sunday against St. Louis. Namestnikov did practice Wednesday and skate Thursday morning.

"He's sore," coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't think it's a long-term thing. We're just throwing a little caution to the wind here with him, and hopefully we'll see him this weekend."

FLU SHOT: LW Ondrej Palat is the latest Lightning player to get the flu, though he played Thursday.

D Anton Stralman, C Valtteri Filppula, Namestnikov had their bouts with the illness in recent weeks, but no player has missed a game due to it.

"It's a tough time on our team because it's just picking guys off one by one," Cooper said. "It's not one where you can't play through these."

TRADE WINDS: The Red Wings had a few representatives in attendance Thursday, including director of pro scouting Mark Howe. A Kings scout has followed the Lightning in its latest homestand. There were also reps from Chicago, Columbus, Boston and San Jose.

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started Thursday. Cooper said that had been planned for weeks. … RW Erik Condra was a healthy scratch.

Comments

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