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Bolts look to end three-game skid in Brooklyn

Lightning look to end six-game roadtrip on a positive note

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to break a three-game losing streak and end their six-game road trip on a positive note when they take on the New York Islanders at Barclays Center tonight.

The Bolts have lost three in a row for the first time since, ironically enough, the exact same time of year last season when they dropped three-straight in regulation and four in a row overall from October 24-31.

Video: Killorn on finishing road trip on a good note"I think tonight's a good opportunity for us to kind of go home feeling a little bit better about this road trip," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "Tonight has to be kind of a turning point. The past couple of games haven't been great for us. We want to have a good one tonight."

Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop gave up six goals on 37 shots in a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday. He'll get a chance to return to form tonight against the Islanders as he'll get the start in net again for the Bolts.

"You want to get back at it," Bishop said. "You don't want to sit on that for too long. We have an opportunity tonight to kind of salvage this road trip, so it's a big game for us and one last one before we get home."

Although the Lightning are anxious to return to Tampa after the long grind of a six-game, 12-day road trip, Bishop said the Bolts are only focused on one thing right now.

And it's not coming home.

"We have a really important game right now and all our focus is on this game right now and then obviously after that we can think about what comes next," he said. "But there's no thinking about (coming home) right now."

KOEKKOEK RETURNS: Defenseman Slater Koekkoek was brought back to the Lightning from Syracuse during the off day Monday and will likely make his season debut tonight. Koekkoek skated in five games with the Crunch and was plus-3 with two assists.

"I thought I played well (in Syracuse)," Koekkoek said. "I thought I was good in both ends of the ice, did what I could do defensively as well as offensively."

Koekkoek started the season with the Lightning but didn't play in any of the team's first three games before being sent down to Syracuse. The reasoning for the demotion was to get Koekkoek some playing time rather than sitting the bench with the Lightning.

"It was disappointing, but I understand that it was to get games and happy to have the opportunity there in Syracuse and thought I played well so see what I can do here tonight," he said.

Koekkoek returns to the scene where he was the Bolts' breakout playoff star last season. He made his postseason debut in Game 2 of a Second Round series against the Islanders in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He followed that up with two more solid games at Barclays Center in Games 3 and 4 and was a regular in the Bolts' playoff lineup after that as a result.

"This is the seat I was sitting in when we beat them back to back in overtime," Koekkoek said, referring to his locker room stall. 'It's a good feeling."

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said the Bolts know what they're getting by recalling Koekkoek.

"We know how he can play," Cooper said. "He's part of our hockey team, it's just a matter of getting him games. He wasn't getting games up here. We had a few games spread out, and his skating ability, his ability to defend, which is something we are not doing right now, hopefully he can add a spark for us there."

Video: Bolts head to Brooklyn to face IslandersTOUGH CHOICES: With the entire Lightning roster healthy following the return of Ryan Callahan from offseason hip surgery and Nikita Kucherov from an upper-body injury, Cooper has the unenviable decision of which forward to healthy scratch.

On Sunday, J.T. Brown sat after starting the first eight games.

Tuesday, it appears Cedric Paquette will be out of the lineup for the first time this season as he sat out morning skate line rushes while Brown paired on the fourth line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Brian Boyle.

"It's terrible because somebody's got to sit," Cooper said. "It's getting to that time, especially the way we're playing, it's not going to be the same guy sitting. So, now it comes down to guys got to work because we've got to work out way out of this, but we're not going to get into one of these situations where it's the same guy sitting up front all the time. We'll see how this goes here moving forward, but as I said, guys are going to earn their playing time."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning continue to search for first-period scoring. They have just three first-period goals, all coming Oct. 25 at Toronto, and have failed to score in the opening period in eight of nine games. "I don't think we've played a full game thus far," Killorn said…Tampa Bay is 5-0-0 when scoring three or more goals this season and 0-4-0 when scoring less than three…Ondrej Palat leads the NHL with 13 takeaways, and Cedric Paquette is tied for first for major penalties with two…Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn, each with six goals, are tied with six other players for the NHL goal lead.

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