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Mikhail Sergachev understands scratches after ‘huge mistake’

Struggling Lightning rookie took a bad penalty Monday, ready to work his way out of his funk
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) battles along the glass against  the Columbus Blue and left wing Matt Calvert (11) during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17). Coming in to help is Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) (in back on left).
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) battles along the glass against the Columbus Blue and left wing Matt Calvert (11) during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday evening (11/04/17). Coming in to help is Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) (in back on left).
Published Jan. 25, 2018
Updated Jan. 25, 2018

Most of his teammates had already boarded the first bus back to the hotel  after Thursday's morning skate, but there was Lightning rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, still on the Wells Fargo Center Ice.

Sergachev, 19, a healthy scratch for the second straight game, spent an extra half hour working out with other scratch Cory Conacher.

It's tough to sit, there's no question. But Sergachev understands. He's been struggling, a minus-6 in his last eight games. And Sergachev took a bad penalty Monday, mouthing off at the ref and throwing a towel, resulting in a four-minute Blackhawks power play.

"Huge mistake I made," Sergachev said. "Putting myself in that situation. First off all, the cross check in the face. Then unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm disappointed with that.  Definitely won't do it again."

Sergachev said Monday was an emotional game, and the Blackhawks were successful in getting under his skin. He went through a similar stretch in juniors last season with Windsor, taking too many "stupid" penalties. Eventually, Sergachev found his way back. He said practices could help him.

"Obviously I'm struggling," Sergachev said. "Now I'm just trying to work my way out of it."

Coaches have overall been impressed with Sergachev, both in his performance and attitude. This will be just a blip. And players have often said sitting out and watching gives them needed perspective; captain Steven Stamkos went through something similar as a rookie, taking notes during games.

"I think it's impressive at his age that he's in the National Hockey League, that's what's impressive to me," coach Jon Cooper said. "That's the way you've got to look at it. At the end of the year, he's going to have a lot more games in the lineup than out. It never hurts to take a step back, watch and learn. He's a really, really talented player and has got a long future in this league."

More notes from skate: G Andrei Vasilevskiy will start tonight, returning to the site of his NHL debut (a win). Conacher is also scratched… Tuesday's game-tying goal was the signature moment for Steven Stamkos' season, but it also might have been the same for Slater Koekkoek. Koekkoek set the play up with a savvy shot fake before feeding Stamkos. "It felt good, Stammer was happy, he thanked me profusely for the pass," Koekkoek said. "Not one of his most memorable, but one of mine, for sure."