Defense plays better as Lightning beats Florida

by Gary Shelton on December 11, 2019

in general

Vasilevskiy won his 12th game of the year./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

Ah. Now, this was more like it.

This was hockey.

Forget about the 46 shots that the Tampa Bay Lightning launched at the Florida Panthers Monday night. Instead, soak up the 2-1 final score. For several games now, Ligthtning coach Jon Cooper has lamented that his team was too focused on the razzle-dazzle aspect of its offense and not paying enough attention to its defensive responsibilities.

This was different. This was a Bolts team that took care of its own end.

“From the drop of the puck, I liked our game," Cooper said. "They’re a good, talented team over there. It’s hard to keep them off the board.  Our penalty kill was big, led by Vasy. When they had those few power play opportunities early in the first period, we controlled the pace of the game the way we wanted. I think they still got some chances, but we weren’t giving them second and third opportunities.

"That's a big thing, you let your goalie see the first one and you can clear them out and not give them those second and third opportunities. You’re going to give yourself a chance. You have to feel for Vas at the end. It takes a big time tip to beat him. It was a great effort all the way around."

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of 28 shots, allowing only a goal with two minutes to play.

Steven Stamkos scored a goal for the Lightning, his fourth in his last three games. Alex Killorn scored the second one for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay, 15-11-3 on the season, is home against Boston on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

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