Cooper tossed as Lightning routed

by Gary Shelton on March 4, 2022

in general

Cooper ejected for the first time./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

If Jon Cooper was going to pick a night to get thrown out of his first game as an NHL coach, this was the one.

There wasn't anything there he wanted to see anyway.

The Pittsburgh Penguins clobbered the Lightning Thursday night at Amalie Arena, 5-1. The Penguins outskated the Bolts, outshot them and outskilled them in the easy victory. They were crisper, quicker and managed the puck better.

The Penguins took 40 shots, had 16 blocked and had 19 misses. Yeah, they shot it 75 times.

Cooper didn't like the parts he saw. But he was dismissed late in the second period for abuse of an official. He didn't like the calls after a scrum in front of the Pittsburgh net when his team ended up shorthanded.

“It was shock that we were short-handed," Cooper said. "That team … they're by far the lowest-penalized team in the league. I don’t know why. To be short out of that situation, it was a little frustrating. No. 4 (Wes McCauley) goes over to their bench (for an explanation). He never came to ours. I would have liked the courtesy there. I’m not sure in all the years what I said is something that he’s never heard before in his history of reffing. 

"As a head coach, you have a duty to coach the game and at times you do get a little emotional and stuff like that. I don't know what I invented that had me tossed out. No. 4 saw it differently."

Cooper was asked wha explanation he received.

"An arm pointing at the exit is the explanation I got, he said. "Ask their coach. He got an explanation. I didn't."

Raw call or not, the Penguins dominated the game. Once again, the Bolts got off to an awful start, getting only six shots off in the first period.

 “I think our last few games, the start has not been the way we wanted it to be. Just too many times, we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot with our starts. It’s hard to play from behind in this league, particularly against a good team like Pittsburgh."

Cooper agreed.

"They outplayed us from start to finish," Cooper said. "It was really bad at the start. I’ve seen some bad starts in my memory. This was on us as a staff and on the players as well. It was unacceptable to come out the way we did, but Pittsburgh was exceptional. I'll give them credit. They imposed their will on us and we had no answer.

"I'm not saying theyr’e a better team than us, but . they were exponentially better than us tonight. I'm disappointed how we played tonight."

The Bolts' only goal was from Pierre-Édouard Bellemare in the second period.

Tampa Bay, now 1-6 in the first game of back-to-backs, is home again tonight against Detroit. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m. at Amalie Arena.


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