Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

'Wily vet' Salo returns

EDMONTON — After missing four games with an upper-body injury, D Sami Salo was in the lineup Sunday against the Oilers.

"A wily vet," coach Jon Cooper called the 39-year-old, "and you can't have enough of those guys on the back end."

For Salo, though, the emphasis was on youth, specifically how well Tampa Bay's young defensemen have played, especially during the combined 12 games this season he and Eric Brewer have been down with injuries.

"They've grown a lot in the time they've been here," Salo said. "It's promising for the organization, to be sure."

Defense and youth dominated the conversation as Tampa Bay entered the game third in the league with an average 2.22 goals allowed. G Ben Bishop gets most of the credit, but the Lightning also had five of the top 10 rookies in plus/minus: D Mark Barberio and LW Ondrej Palat tied for fourth at plus-11; RW Nikita Kucherov and C Tyler Johnson tied for eighth at plus-8; and D Andrej Sustr 10th at plus-7.

On defense, Sustr, Barberio and Radko Gudas, all 23, are rookies. Victor Hedman, though in his fifth season, is just 23. Jean-Philippe Cote, though 31, has played just 16 NHL games.

"For sure, they bring a lot of energy to the table," Salo said. "For sure, it brings me a lot of energy to see how hard they play and how fast they are and how they've grown during the year."

Tampa Bay plays eight rookies, so blips are inevitable, such as the five goals the team gave up to the Oilers in a 5-3 loss.

But considering it finished 26th or worse in defense five of the past seven seasons and last twice, being near the top is okay.

"It's a team stat," Cooper said of his rookies' gaudy plus/minus numbers. "If your guys are a plus, it means your team is doing well, and we'll take that."

MORE DEFENSE: Kucherov, with six goals in 19 games since his callup from AHL Syracuse, gets much praise for his offensive instincts. But he said he took "very seriously" Cooper's advice that his stay in the NHL depends on playing responsible defense. He is plus-6. "I decide myself I want to stay here for a long time," Kucherov said. "Sometimes when you play in the D zone, it actually feels good. I never knew that before. When you backcheck hard and help stop the puck and take it away, you feel good."

COTE KEEPS GOING: Cote on Sunday played his eighth game since his callup from Syracuse, matching the total number games he had played previously in the league. "I'm trying to stick around by doing the simple things," said Cote, who has three assists and 10 blocked shots.

"I'm feeling better and better playing the game at this level."

Cote said he believes the AHL is a physically rougher league because players try to impress to make the jump to the NHL.

"So any hit that is a little harder than usual, you'll have someone on your back," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: Palat has two goals, five assists on a six-game points streak, tied for this season's rookie best with Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele. … The Lightning played 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … Barberio and forwards Tom Pyatt and B.J. Crombeen were scratched.

Comments
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn’t headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn’t headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Postgame reactions from Lightning’s Game 7 loss to the Capitals

Postgame reactions from Lightning’s Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.Here are some postgame re...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

TAMPA — After Alex Ovechkin's goal 62 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, the next highlight was an extended fight between Lightning D Braydon Coburn and Capitals RW Tom Wilson, with a two-minute break for them to spe...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Published: 05/23/18
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Published: 05/23/18
Live blog: Lightning's season ends with 4-0 loss in Game 7

Live blog: Lightning's season ends with 4-0 loss in Game 7

  Follow our live coverage of the Eastern Conference final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. We'll have updates, analysis, photos, video and more on and off the ice from Times reporters, editors, sports columnists and photo j...
Published: 05/23/18