Tampa Bay Lightning works to fix power play

TAMPA — The Lightning has "the disease of the power play," coach Guy Boucher said.

That is, relaxing while playing with an extra man.

The result: Tampa Bay has not scored more than one power-play goal in a game since Dec. 20 and is 12-for-85 (14.1 percent) in its past 22 games.

The Lightning still entered Tuesday sixth in the league at 20.7 percent and went 1-for-5 against the Sabres with more puck possession and easier setups than have been seen recently.

But Boucher was concerned enough to devote much of Monday's practice to entering the zone, something at which the team has struggled.

"Once we're in the zone, we're fine," C Steven Stamkos said.

But getting in has been no guarantee of staying in. Tampa Bay, the previous four games, had won just 12 of 37 power-play faceoffs (32.4 percent). It was 3-for-6 against Buffalo.

"It's not just the centermen (taking the faceoffs)," LW Marty St. Louis said. "We don't do enough jumping in and helping them out."

"When the other team gets the puck, they ice it," Stamkos said. "That takes 30 seconds away."

Maybe it comes down to this:

"You're one more (player on the ice)," Boucher said. "So you're more relaxed on everything: stick-handling, taking time with your shot. You should be giving 100 (percent) because the penalty kill, they're fighting for their lives. They're working even harder than five-on-five."

MOVING ON?: F Mattias Ritola is on waivers to send him to AHL Norfolk. It will be known at noon today if he cleared.

Ritola, 23, has been a disappointment since being claimed off waivers from the Red Wings in September. He has two goals and six points in 24 games and has battled Meniere's disease, which causes, sometimes without warning, headaches and dizziness, which makes it difficult to schedule him to play.

"We need him to play games," GM Steve Yzerman said.

SYMPTOMATIC: Nate Thompson said he does not believe he has a concussion. But Boucher said the center showed enough symptoms after Sunday's overtime victory over the Blues to sit him out against the Sabres.

"It's just precautionary," Thompson said. "Sit out and get some rest the next few days."

Thompson said he was hurt late in the third period when his head hit the glass as he was "squeezed off" along the boards by St. Louis D Eric Brewer.

"It was just an awkward thing," Thompson said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Stamkos turned 21 on Monday, and his 114 career goals were fourth all time by that age, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, behind Wayne Gretzky (164), Jimmy Carson (141) and Dale Hawerchuk (122).

"You don't realize how great it is at the rink being around the guys when you're winning," Stamkos said. "I'd trade that for individual success."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning lost for just the second time in regulation after entering with a third-period lead (22-2-1). … W Sean Bergenheim had his first two-goal game since March 7, 2009, for the Islanders against the Devils. … A decision will be made shortly as to whether Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins (shoulder) needs surgery, Yzerman said. … W Ryan Malone played after missing five games with a mid-body injury. … D Mike Lundin (abdomen) and Ritola were scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning works to fix power play 02/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:29am]

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