1. Lightning

Stamkos' playoff scoring drought reaches eight games

Published Apr. 26, 2015

TAMPA — All-Star center Steven Stamkos' quiet postseason continued in Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Red Wings.

The Lightning's top scoring threat was held without a goal for the eighth consecutive playoff game, dating to last season's first-round defeat against Montreal. Including the regular season, Stamkos is on a six-game drought without a goal and has only three in his past 14 games.

"It's tough," said Stamkos, who was second in the league with 43 goals during the regular season. "Obviously I want to produce. It's not for lack of effort. … It's just not going the way I want it to right now."

Detroit's defensemen have been a big reason for that, limiting him to two assists in Game 2 and nothing since.

The Red Wings have made it a focus to limit Stamkos' opportunities by keeping the puck away from him. He had only two shots Saturday in 19 minutes on the ice, including 2:43 on the power play.

"Obviously when you look at their team, the guys who are going to get the most attention are (Tyler) Johnson and Stamkos," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You do everything you can to make sure those guys have the fewest touches possible."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos has had some scoring opportunities but hasn't been able to take advantage. Some of that, Cooper said, comes from the playoff intensity, where the empty space Stamkos thrives in becomes even scarcer, and because he draws extra attention from Detroit's defensemen.

Before the game, Cooper said he remained optimistic that Stamkos would break through, with a lucky bounce or a well-deserved break that would lead to more scoring. Afterward, Cooper defended his star player's performance.

"You can't sit here and throw it all on Stammer," Cooper said. "We've gone eight of nine periods without scoring. Stammer doesn't play the whole game. … So it's not on him. It's on all of us."

Stamkos' penalties haven't helped his scoring or the Lightning's offense.

With a hooking call Saturday, Stamkos has racked up eight penalty minutes in the series. The Game 5 penalty was costly; the ensuing Red Wings power play led to their third goal, which put the game out of reach.

"Nothing is going right, right now," said Stamkos, whose most recent postseason goals came in Game 1 of last year's series against the Canadiens. "As long as I continue to compete, hopefully (things) change. It (stinks) to be going through something like this at this time of year when your team needs you. Hopefully I can come through."

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.