Jon Cooper: Blown assignments, not effort, cause of Lightning's loss to Bruins

Boston Bruins' Jimmy Hayes (11) watches his goal past Tampa Bay Lightning's Ben Bishop (30) during the second period. [AP photo]
Boston Bruins' Jimmy Hayes (11) watches his goal past Tampa Bay Lightning's Ben Bishop (30) during the second period. [AP photo]
Published Nov. 28, 2016

BOSTON — Coach Jon Cooper expected a peak effort from the Lightning after Friday's clunker, a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets.

And Cooper believed Tampa Bay brought a better performance in Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden.

"Our guys gamed it out," Cooper said. "It was basically blown assignments."

The Lightning lost Bruins C Dominic Moore on Boston's first goal, the former Tampa Bay forward swatting in a loose puck in front of the net. Cooper said the Lightning penalty kill was out of position on Boston's second goal, a double deflection from the point.

"Big picture, the guys played hard," Cooper said. "Just every time we made a little mistake, they put it in the net."

PALAT HURT: LW Ondrej Palat left the game five minutes into the third period with an undisclosed injury. The injury didn't appear to be serious, but Cooper didn't want to speculate on Palat's status after the game. The Lightning's next game is Tuesday in Columbus.

DROUIN IT: RW Jonathan Drouin dazzled with eight shots, a team high for the season, especially clicking in the third period.

"Every time I stepped on the ice, the puck seemed to find me," he said. "I want to shoot more, get some good shots."

Drouin didn't score — his apparent third-period goal eventually was credited to D Victor Hedman — but his impact was noticeable. Drouin led the team's forwards with 20 minutes, 46 seconds of ice time.

"I thought he had a strong game, warranted the ice time," Cooper said. "He was skating and commanding the puck."

RARE BOUT: RW Nikita Kucherov got into his first NHL fight, scrapping with Bruins D Torey Krug in the final minute of the first period. Kucherov had just eight penalty minutes in the first 21 games of the season, and he doubled that in one play, getting a five-minute fighting major and a two-minute slashing minor. It was Kucherov's first fight since Feb. 22, 2011, when he played in the KHL in Russia.

LINING UP: G Ben Bishop lost his second straight start and fell to 7-8-0 on the season. … The Lightning went back to a 12-forward alignment, with RW Erik Condra in and D Luke Witkowski out. … D Anton Stralman (upper body) missed his eighth straight game, but Cooper said he still hoped Stralman could return on this three-game trip. … RW J.T. Brown (upper body) missed his third straight game.

NUTS AND BOLTS: C Tyler Johnson's six-game points streak was snapped. … After playing most of this season at the wing, rookie Brayden Point got to play his natural center position in the third period, and he looked good with Drouin. "Right now you're looking to see what different guys can do in situations," Cooper said. "What we were doing wasn't working. Point is a natural center. We put him in there, and once again, he didn't disappoint."

Joe Smith can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_Smith.