Slump continues as Lightning drops third straight

by Gary Shelton on January 21, 2018 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Point scored two goals for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Point scored two goals for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

The long-feared slump of the Tampa Bay Lightning has arrived. From the looks of it, it will not go away easily.

The Bolts lost their third straight game Saturday night against Minnesota, falling 5-2. The Bolts have now lost five of their last seven games.

“We’re out of sync," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It’s unreal. The guys didn’t forget how to play hockey in the last week and a half. It’s just we’re out of sync. One guy zigs, the other guy zags. For whatever reason, we’re not playing together, not in the sense that they don’t want to but just their reads, what we’ve done for 40-plus games, it’s crazy how over the last week and a half here we’ve lost our swag.

"We’re doing a few things that are a little uncharacteristic and maybe we got away with, pucks went in easy for us. It’s not happening now like that. It’s not because of lack of effort. Guys are trying to game it out. You can see they’re frustrated. It’s tough when you’re playing so many games in so many nights and you’ve got to kind of find your game during the game. It’s just a stretch for us now. We’ve got to work our way out of it.”


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Vasilevskiy has struggled in his last six games./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy has struggled in his last six games./CARMEN MANDATO

Chief among the slumpers is goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, who is 1-4-1 in his last six games and has given up 25 goals.

Nikita Kucherov has one goal in his last five games. Steven Stamkos doesn't have a goal in his last seven.

The Bolts gave up another goal off a face-off, which has struggled all season.

“We’re 30th in the league, so that’s obviously a concern for us," Cooper said. "It’s tough because our last game, we were 58 percent in the circle. The problem is two of them ended up in our night. Tonight, one ends up in our net. It’s not like that’s been happening all year, but it’s kind of the way things have been going for us.”

Brayden Point scored two goals, his 18th and 19th, for Tampa Bay.

“We know what we have in this room and we know we’ve got a lot of skill," Point said. "We know we can win games and play a certain way to win games. I think we’ve gotten away from that in the past couple games. We’re working towards getting back to how we played at the beginning of the year. I think tonight we did show signs of that for sure.”

The Lightning managed just six shots in the first period, just six more in the second.

"We didn’t get where we are by fluke," Cooper said. "We’ve got better in us. We have to dig our way out."

Alex Killorn said the team's confidence was shaken a bit, but the team still believes.

“Not overly concerned but it’s a tough moment for us," Killorn said. "We had the break, had a couple bad games before that. It seemed to roll over into this. It’s not for lack of effort. We’ve all been working hard. It’s just we have to work a little bit smarter. It’s something we have to figure out. It’s not going to get easier for us. We’ve got two games with Chicago and Nashville that are going to be just as tough.

“(The team's confidence is affected) a little bit. Things were definitely going our way at the beginning of the year. It’s not like we weren’t earning those bounces, but it seemed like things were definitely going our way. You play in this league long enough, you realize you’re going to have these ebbs and flows in the season. It’s just how quick you can get out of them. The only way really I think to get out is to keep working hard and simplify our game a little bit.”

The Lightning plays against Chicago tonight. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m.

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