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Latest Lightning loss makes you wonder about their goaltender

Here’s something for the Tampa Bay Lightning to consider as they go nowhere.

What if Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t the future?

Vasilevskiy lost his sixth consecutive start Thursday night as the Bolts fell 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks. With the loss, the Lightning fell to 21-21-5 on the season. Vasilevskiy fell to 10-11-2. He has now given up 24 goals in his last six starts.

Tampa Bay has now lost 12 of its last 14 road games.

For the Bolts, the plan all along was that Vasilevskiy would be the future, and that the team would barter starting goaltender Ben Bishop somewhere along the way. But Vasilevskiy’s recent skid has called all of that into question.

The Sharks got goals from Ryan Carpenter and Logan Couture in the win. The Bolts’ goal came on a highlight-reel power play from Jonathan Drouin.

Still, it was not enough to pull out the win for Tampa Bay, which plays at Arizona Saturday night.

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Lightning beats Kings, 2-1, with solid game by Ben Bishop

Is it too late for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The Lightning certainly hopes not. And Monday in Los Angeles, for once, the Lightning didn’t play like it. They ground out a 2-1 victory over the Kings that once again put them on the right side of .500 at 21-20-4.

The Kings scored first on a goal by Kyle Clifford. But the Bolts charged back with goals by Tyler Johnson and by Brian Boyle.

The goal by Johnson was particularly nifty, as he went top shelf after a dazzling pass from Jonathan Drouin.

“That’s what elite offensive-minded players can make, and Jo is elite in that regard. A lot of good things happen when he has the puck on his stick, and when you get yourself open, there’s a good chance he’s going to be able to find you. He did a great job protecting the puck. He beat his man, and now you give him a little bit of open space to make a play and Johnny opened up. The key was, it’s not so much he found Johnson, he put it right in Johnson’s wheelhouse. When you’re able to do that, give the guys a chance to score, and that’s what Jo did.”

The Bolts had lost five of their previous six games.

However, Ben Bishop won for the second time since returning from injury. In those two games, he has stopped 52 of 55 shots.

The Lightning played without Victor Hedman.

“It’s happened so often this year, you kind of don’t blink an eye. That was unfortunate, but then we found out Kopitar wasn’t playing like two minutes after that, so I thought, ‘Okay, that’s a one-for-one.’ Fans pay to see guys like Hedman and Anze Kopitar play, so it’s unfortunate they couldn’t. But it was still an entertaining hockey game.”

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Lightning prepared to raise Marty St. Louis’ jersey to rafters

Three years ago, he went away angry.

Three years ago, a lot of Tampa Bay Lightning fans felt he had pulled out on the team.

But tonight, Marty St. Louis returns home for the team’s first jersey-retiring ceremony before the game against Columbus. Finally, the team and its star have reconciled.

“I don’t think even when you’re done playing and you’ve done some great things” St. Louis said, “it’s nothing you hope for. This is an add-on you never felt coming. I’m so flattered and honored. I feel good about what I’ve done. But there are people who want to recognize me for it is something I’ll remember forever.”

St. Louis, an afterthought when he entered the league, always played with a chip on his shoulder, as if he had something to prove. He was undersized as a player, but he showed he was big enough.

“You always feel you have something to prove,” St. Louis said. “It’s hard to make it to the NHL, and it’s hard to be an elite player. It’s even harder to stay there. Every year, kids are pushing you trying to get to there. I took pride in that. I think I was my biggest critic. I was trying to show people I could still do it. I think I was an impact player longer because of that mentality.”

St. Louis looks back on his days in Tampa fondly.

“My wife and I talk about it all the time,” St. Louis said. “We grew up here. We had just gotten married. All of our kids were raised here at a young age. We have a lot of friends of the family who are here. I matured here. It will always be home. It was home. Always be a special place.”

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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos has torn meniscus in right knee

Once again, the captain is on the shelf.

One day after injuring his right knee in a game against Detroit, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos was diagnosed with a torn meniscus. The team has said Stamkos is out indefinitely, but most projections say recovery time is roughly one month, depending on whether the knee requires surgery.

“We are in the process of evaluating options for repair and rehabilitation and will release more information as it becomes available,” Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement.

For Stamkos, it was an unwelcome feeling to be away from the game, but not a new one. He missed 45 games in 2013-14 after breaking his leg. Last year, he missed most of the playoffs with a blood clot issue.

Stamkos, who signed a $68 million extension in the off-season, had been off to a good start with 20 points in 17 games, which is tied for third in the NHL.

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Lightning starts slowly again, overcomes New Jersey Devils

Every time, the Tampa Bay Lightning give the New Jersey Devils a head start.

For the second time in three meetings, however, the Bolts came back.

Saturday night, Tampa Bay fell behind 1-0 (the smallest lead the Devils have had), but came back to win 4-1.

The Lightning had goals from Brian Boyle, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov.

Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 37 of 38 for his fifth win of the year.

“It’s an issue,no question” coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ve got to find a way to make sure our starts are better. If Bish wasn’t being Bish, we’d have been in trouble.”

Tampa Bay is now 7-4-1 on the season.

The Lightning is at Florida on Monday night.

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Lightning falls behind 2-0 again, loses game to Boston Bruins

Another game at home. Another hole to dig out of.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, once again, found themselves behind two goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to Boston Thursday night. In five home games, the Bolts have fallen behind 2-0 in four of them. This time, Boston’s Jimmy Hayes scored the winning goal in the 10th round of the shootout.

“Clearly it’s troublesome,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “You don’t want to give the guys a free pass, but you come off a 12-day road trip, ask any team that comes in and has their first home game back. They were on us. There was no doubt they were on us. They went up 2-0, one squeaks by our goaltender that we’d potentially like to have back and another one was offside.

“We fell down, but I didn’t think we should’ve been down 2-0. I thought the guys, when they got their legs and everything under them, I  thought they played well enough to win the game.

“Our goalie gave us a chance to win and you know how it is when you get to the shootout. Flip a coin and when you start getting 10 guys deep, goalies did their job. Somebody’s got to put it in and unfortunately for us their guy did.”

 The Lightning’s Tyler Johnson scored two goals. Victor Hedman scored the third goal. In the shootout, Braydon Point scored the only goal for the Bolts.

Brandon Carlo, Ryan Spooner and David Pasternak scored in regulation for the Bruins, who finished a 3-1 road trip.

“For us, we just got to find a way to jump up and have a better start than we had today,” Hedman said. “And, we like the way we battled back obviously, but we got to have a better start on Saturday against New Jersey that’s for sure. We just have to prepare the right way and make sure we get two [points] on Saturday.”

 The Lightning is 6-4-1 on the season.

Tampa Bay plays New Jersey Saturday night.

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Nikita Kucherov scores twice as Lightning ends streak

Yep. That’s Nikita Kucherov, all right.

Kucherov, who entered Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders with only one goal on the season, scored twice and had two assists in the Lightning’s 6-1 win. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and enabled the Lightning to end their road trip with a 3-3 record.

It was only the second time in 10 games the Bolts have scored a goal in the first period.

This was Kuch’s best game of the year,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He commanded the puck. Every time he went into a pile, he came out with it.”

Besides Kucherov, the Bolts got goals from Steven Stamkos, Brian Boyle, J.T. Brown and Valtteri Filppula.

“We knew that this was going to have to be a response game for us,” Stamkos said. “We got challenged internally in this room. We got challenged by the coaching staff to respond and I thought we did a great job of just playing the right way. We learned that what made us successful was just defend first and let the skill take over after that.”

“I thought it was just a complete effort,” Cooper said. “Compare and contrast to the Rangers game where it was just odd-man rush after odd-man rush, we were a really responsible team tonight, and we ended up getting the lead and then held on from there. They were a responsible group tonight.”

Ben Bishop stopped 26 of 27 shots.

“It’s nice,” Bishop said. “It’s something we needed to kind of salvage this road trip. We just took care of our end. We didn’t give up, i think we had maybe one odd-man rush, one breakaway there at the end, but we played really sound defensively and that’s what we need to do to win. Obviously, our skill would take over and it’s important to take care of our end and the guys did that tonight.”

The Lightning returns home to play the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

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Rangers clobber Lightning behind Michael Grabner’s hat trick

The good start by the Tampa Bay Lightning seems like only a distant memory.

The Lightning lost its third consecutive game Sunday night in a 6-1 clobbering at the hands of the New York Rangers.

After a scoreless first period, the Rangers scored four in the second period. Michael Grabner scored the third hat trick of his career in the win.

“It’s a test,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “But let’s pump the brakes. It’s game nine. If it was game 79, we might be a little alarmed. Let’s see how these guys pull themselves out of this.”

Cooper pointed out that breakaways and odd-man rushes led the New York effort.

“All of our players got in the passenger’s seat,” Cooper said. “No one got in the driver’s seat.”

The Lightning only scored in the third period when Steven Stankos scored on the power play.

Tampa Bay is at the New York Islanders Tuesday night before returning home to play the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

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Lightning’s slow start dooms them against New Jersey in loss

The Tampa Bay Lighting, off to a good start this season, have now stubbed their toes in back-to-back games.

The Lightning dropped a 3-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils Saturday night, marking the first time all season the team has lost two in a row. Tampa Bay is now 5-3 on the season.

Tampa Bay had 33 shots on goal, including six by forward Steven Stamkos. However, a third-period goal by Tyler Johnson was the only score the Bolts could manage. It was the seventh time in eight games the Bolts have failed to score in the first period.

“If we want to have long-term success  in this league,  you can’t fall behind,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “On our home stand, we found ways to come back, but it’s just a recipe for disaster.

“I look back, I think we’ve only scored once in the first period all year. You’re not going to win too many hockey games if you’re always chasing the game. Our urgency has not been there for whatever reason in the 3rd period against Montreal and it just carried into tonight. That’s too bad because that’s a team you catch on a back-to-back. It’s a little tough for us too because we’ve been on the road for a week and more than that so both teams have wear and tear on them a little bit but we’ve got to be better for us to win tonight.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy started in goal for Tampa Bay, but he stopped only 20 of 23 shots.

New Jersey scored twice in the opening period on goals by Adam Henrique and Damon Severson. Devante Smith-Pelly made it 3-0 in the third period. For a team playing its second game in two nights, the Devils were crisp.

“If you look at the schedule, you would say that would have benefited us, but we didn’t use it to our advantage,” Johnson said. “We didn’t start off hot. We didn’t start the way we wanted to, and they came out ready to play so you’ve got to give them credit for that. But we definitely weren’t at our best.”

The Lightning plays against the New York Rangers tonight.

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Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos validates decision against Toronto

Yeah, Steven Stamkos made the right choice, all right.

Stamkos, who declined to move to his home town of Toronto in the off-season and instead signed a seven-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored twice in his return home Tuesday night. The Lightning ran its record to 5-1 with a 7-3 win over the Maple Leafs.

“I’m sure he’s feeling a little better about his contract situation than he was a year ago,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “He’s shooting the puck. When someone of his caliber is shooting the puck, good things are going to happen.”

The Lightning got its first first-period goal of the season as it raced to a 4-0 lead. The Leafs came within 5-3, but Tampa Bay scored two more to close out the victory.

“We wanted to come out strong, and I think that was the first game where we scored in the first period,” Stamkos said. “So it was something we talked about before was getting out to a good start, especially on the road, it’s always important. It definitely set the tone for the game and put us up.”

For the Bolts, Alex Killorn scored his fifth goal of the year and Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored their first. Also, Vlad Namestinov and Jonathan Drouin scored.

Goaltender Ben Bishop had 40 saves – the Leafs got off 43 shots – and lost two teeth in taking the win.

The Lightning now travels to Montreal for a Thursday night game against the Canadiens.

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