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Notebook: Bolts moving forward with losses in the rearview

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

In the bigger scheme of things the Tampa Bay Lightning's past two losses do not mean it is time to reach for the panic button.

Even though the games have resulted with losses, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper believes that the effort in the dropped decisions has been better than some of the wins the Lightning have squeaked out through the midway stretch.

There have been instances, however, where the team has reverted to catch-up hockey when trailing recently.

"Veteran, disciplined teams hang in there and trust that they'll come back," Cooper said. "That's the one thing that we have to protect against, playing outside of our comfort zone and playing different because we're behind."

Down 2-0 Saturday with 58 minutes left to play, the Lightning found itself again, but it did not come until the second with an effort that cut the deficit to one goal on the scoreboard. Yet the Bolts fell just short in the third.

"You start dwelling then it just starts a snowball effect," J.T. Brown said.

The Lightning also needs to show their resiliency after being on the wrong side of some plays that have been costly and ultimately led to its downfall.

In Thursday's loss, Ben Bishop came out of the crease to play the puck and passed directly to a Flames' forward, who scored on an empty net. Then on Saturday, a Teddy Purcell takeaway on the opening faceoff led to a Stars' goal 40 seconds into first.

"We literally feel like we're scoring on ourselves," head coach Jon Cooper said. "Then we see the shoulder shrug on the bench and that's what we have to do a better job of brushing that stuff off."

With emotions high after a playoff berth combined with back-to-back losses leaving the Bolts mentally exhausted, Sunday's day off gave them a chance to clear their heads of hockey, even if for a brief moment.

"Whether you played great or terrible you have to move on from it and refocus for the next night," B.J. Crombeen said.

Tampa Bay faces the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are still trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, Tuesday.


Saturday the top line saw Steven Stamkos centering Ondrej Palat, while Tyler Johnson was also added to the combination. Monday Cooper made some more changes to his other lines:

  • Killorn-Filppula-Callahan
  • Panik-Pyatt-Purcell
  • Brown-Kunyk-Kucherov
  • Malone-Thompson-Crombeen

Scoring just one goal Thursday and three over the past two games at home, the Lightning are looking for a spark.

"It's kind of a funny thing, when lines change or people get put into different situations it can spark different players or sometimes the team as a whole," B.J. Crombeen said. "When things aren't going right that kind of thing happens and hopefully we can get some confidence back and start rolling on teams."

With just four games left in the regular season they will also see who works well together as Cooper starts to work on his postseason lineup.


Though Radko Gudas' match penalty carries an automatic suspension, after the National Hockey League reviewed the play they determined that no further action was necessary and therefore negated the one-game suspension.

Less than 10 minutes into the opening period Saturday, Gudas was handed the match penalty for what seemed an unintentional hit on Antoine Roussel. Roussel was shaken up on the play, but did stay in the game.

Cooper said he was initially surprised by the call, but that referees will usually side on that of caution as they are trying to take out those type of plays in the game.

  • Bolts prospect Henri Ikonen was signed to an entry-level contract with the Lighting Sunday. He will report to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) for the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout contract. The 19-year-old forward appeared in 54 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, posting 25 goals and 70 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating.
  • Steve Yzerman signed a four-year contract extension Monday. He has one year remaining on his initial contract with the Lightning.
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