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Lightning switch up power-play units in search of a spark

The changes include swapping defensemen on the first and second man-advantage units.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Brayden Point (21) after Sergachev scored a power-play goal against the Ottawa Senators earlier this month at Amalie Arena.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Brayden Point (21) after Sergachev scored a power-play goal against the Ottawa Senators earlier this month at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 10|Updated Nov. 10

TAMPA — The Lightning are looking for answers to their power-play struggles, and on Wednesday that included switching up their man-advantage units.

Following an 0-for-5 night in which the power play managed just five shots on goal in 8:50 in a 3-2 loss to the Oilers, the Lightning are 5-for-32 on the power play (15.6 percent) over their past eight games.

Compounding their special-teams frustrations, they’ve allowed three shorthanded goals over the past four games, including Warren Foegele’s opening goal Tuesday.

“When you get to the power play, when it starts not working is when you exhale and you get out there and say, ‘OK, we’ve got the extra guy and now we can relax,’ " coach Jon Cooper said. “To me, you have to work as hard on the power plays as you do 5-on-5 or any other part of the game. And I think at times, we’ve exhaled.”

The Lightning concentrated heavily on the power play during the early part of Wednesday’s practice at Amalie Arena and made notable changes.

Mikhail Sergachev worked with the first group as its defenseman, with Victor Hedman moving to the second. Forward Brandon Hagel moved up to the first unit but shifted from the left circle to the end line, and forward Vladislav Namestnikov returned to the second unit.

“We are trying to do what’s best for our team, and we want to put guys in position to succeed,” Cooper said. “But again, it’s not like we’re handing out Halloween candy. Everybody’s got to work for it. We’ve been together for a long time, this group, and they can self-correct pretty easily.”

Sergachev quarterbacked the first power-play unit last week when Hedman was out with an upper-body injury and contributed a goal and an assist. The power play is 1-for-21 over Hedman’s last six games.

Tampa Bay opened the season with power-play goals in each of its first five games, going 10-for-22 before cooling. Five of its six goals during that hot streak came from Steven Stamkos, who hasn’t had a power-play goal since.

It’s not as if the Lightning haven’t had opportunities, including at least five power plays three times in the past four games. But they’ve gone 3-for-19 over that stretch, including 1-for-8 on Nov. 1 against the Senators. They’ve struggled not only to create chances but also on entries into the offensive zone to set up the power play.

“I think you just try to outwork the (opponent’s penalty kill),” center Brayden Point said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. If passing through them is not working, I think you’ve just got to simplify and shoot and try to outwork the (penalty kill) and create your own bounces, I guess. And then if you get one, you start to feel better and start to get that confidence back.”

Kane expected to miss three to four months

Oilers forward Evander Kane, who needed surgery to repair a deep gash to his left wrist suffered in Tuesday’s game, is expected to miss the next three to four months. He promised in a social media post that he would be back on the ice.

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Kane rushed frantically off the ice holding the arm early in the second period after Lightning forward Pat Maroon’s left skate blade accidentally sliced it. Kane left a spot of blood on the ice as he disappeared down the tunnel. He was stabilized at Amalie Arena and taken to a hospital for surgery.

“Obviously, (Tuesday) night was an extremely scary moment for me, and I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Kane said in a Twitter post Wednesday. “I would like to thank the entire training staff of the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning, along with all the doctors and paramedics who rushed to help treat and repair my injury. Without all of you, I know things would have been much worse and I’m sincerely grateful. I won’t be back next game, but I will be back and I look forward to being back on the ice playing the game I love alongside my teammates in front of our great fans.”

The Oilers placed Kane on long-term injured reserve Wednesday.

Lightning holding 30 years celebration

The Lightning announced plans for a fan event to celebrate 30 years of the franchise Dec. 7 at Tampa Theater from 7:30-9 p.m.

The event, titled “A Night With the Bolts: Celebrating 30 Years,” will feature alumni from all three decades of Lightning hockey. Guests will include Brian Bradley, Daren Puppa, Dave Andreychuk, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vinny Prospal, Dwayne Roloson, Ryan Malone and Braydon Coburn.

The team had a fan event to celebrate the Lightning’s 30th anniversary planned for last month, but it was canceled due to Hurricane Ian.

Tickets for the event, which will be $35 each, will go on sale to the general public Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. at Tampabaylightning.com/TampaTheater. A special pre-sale event will begin Nov. 10 at 10 am.

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