Tampa Bay Archives - Page 5 of 24 - SaintPetersBlog

Goaltender Ben Bishop returns as Lightning beat Buffalo, 4-2

Well, hello there, Ben Bishop.

And welcome back.

Bishop, who has been out since Dec. 20 with a lower body injury, finally returned to the lineup after missing the last nine games and two periods for the Tampa Bay Lightning. And Bishop played well, improving his record to 10-10-2 in a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

The win broke a four-game losing streak for the Bolts. Buffalo narrowed the lead to one goal in the third period, but the Lightning held on.

“I thought Bish had a lot to do with that,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “The saves he made. The way he played the puck. I don’t know how many he stopped behind the net.”

Ondrej Palat scored twice for Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucheerov scored his 17th, and Anton Stralman scored an empty netter.

“Palat was a beast,” Cooper said. “He was all over the ice.”

Bishop said he wasn’t particularly rusty “after that first goal.” He stopped 26 of 28 shots.

The Bolts are home tonight against Columbus.

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Bucs retain defensive coordinator Mike Smith with extension

The Tampa Bay Bucs have made their first big off-season signing, and it isn’t a player.

The Bucs signed defensive coordinator Mike Smith to an extension shortly after Smith withdrew his name from consideration from the (now Los Angeles) Chargers.

Tampa Bay came on late in the season in their 6-2 second half. They had 29 takeaways, and they led the league in third-down defense.

The Bucs started the season slowly with new corners and new defensive ends. Smith, 57, interviewed for the Jaguars and Chargers head coaching jobs, bringing an impressive resume. He went 66-46 as head coach of the Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship Game in 2012.

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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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Rays add Colby Rasmus to their outfield, need bullpen help

The Tampa Bay Rays may have to tweak their starting rotation.

Obviously, the bullpen needs work.

As far as the regular lineup, however, the Rays have gotten better this off-season with the addition of Colby Rasmus and catcher Wilson Ramos. Whether they have done enough remains to be seen, but it’s a start toward fixing last year’s 68-94 record, the only non-winning team in the AL East.

Rasmus has had four 20-home run seasons and is thought of as an excellent defender.

Part of the equation, of course, will be when, and how many games, Ramos can catch. Another part will be how much Rasmus can hit. Rasmus hit only .206 last year in an injury-plagued year.

Still, the lineup of Brad Miller at first, Logan Forsythe at second, Matt Duffy at short, Evan Longoria at third and Ramos behind the plate has some promise. Rasmus would slide into left, with Corey Dickerson at DH. Kevin Kiermaier is in center and Steven Souza in right.

After Alex Colome, the pen needs attention, as does the rotation, where only Jake Odorizzi had a winning record a year ago.

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Lightning clobbered yet again, falls to .500 for the season

After a while, it isn’t just a slump.

After a while, it’s a new reality.

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to .500 on the season, losing their fourth straight game of the season. This time, it was a 6-2 beating at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It lowered the Bolts’ record to 19-19-4 on the season.

The Lightning has now given up three or more goals in 16 of their last 21 games.

“We played a really good team that’s had quite a long break to get the bodies healthy, and we’re a tired group,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “When you’re tired, you’re bound to make a couple of mistakes. We did what we wanted to do, we got the lead, and unfortunately, we broke down on the first one and then the self-inflicted wounds started. We make a major error on the second one, turn it over, and against a good team, that’s going to end up in the back of the net. But, ultimately, it was still 2-1 going into the third. They pushed, and we just couldn’t push back. We were tired at the end.”

Weariness doesn’t answer all of the Bolts’ problems as of late, however. The defense has played poorly, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has three six-goal games in the last four.

Jonathan Drouin and Vlad Namestnikov scored for the Lightning.

“You’ve just got to get back to work,” Cooper said. “It’s 82 games, not four. But we’ve got to have a little renewed interest in our D zone because it doesn’t matter, you can sit here and say, ‘Well, we can score four or five a night,’ you’re still going to lose when you give up six. But, the guys have played a lot of hockey here in a short amount of time, and they tried to game this one out. It was our mistakes that led to their goals, and they capitalized on every one of them.

“I can look back on those goals and three-quarters of them, we just handed to them on a platter. You can’t do that. Ultimately, we didn’t penetrate enough. They got to the scoring areas to score, and we didn’t. We were still a little bit perimeter at times, and we can’t be. It cost us.”

The Lightning is home Thursday night against Buffalo and Friday against Columbus.

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Defenseless Lightning continues slump against Philadelphia

The Tampa Bay Lightning continues to talk about how big the games ahead of them are.

And they continue to lose them.

The Bolts lost their third straight game – giving up 16 goals in the three – in a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.

“It was turnovers and lost battles pretty much all night,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “When you’re going to do that, you don’t really have much of a chance of winning. And then, on top of that, 5-on-5, we were okay for the most part and shots were only I think 32-26 5-on-5, but we each had two power plays, they had eight power-play shots, we had none. You look at our 6-on-5, we had it in their zone for two-and-a-half minutes, and all we did was kill the clock for them.

“And when you just don’t have that passion to go to the net and shoot the puck to score, it’s tough to win games. And that’s what (the Flyers) did tonight, they threw pucks at the net and had guys there and banged a bunch home. We just lost too many battles and turned too many pucks over. That was it.”

 The Bolts took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nikita Kucherov, but gave up four goals in the second period for the loss. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 40 shots, but he let four of them in.

“It starts with turnovers,” Cooper said. “When you’re turning pucks over, now you’re on your heels a little bit and now you’ve got to win battles to get them back. And they just, to me, won a few more battles than we did tonight.”

The Lightning, still behind in the playoff race, had hoped to use this weekend’s trip to Philadelphia to find itself. It did not.

“It’s too bad because everybody’s losing all around us,” Cooper said. “That’s not going to happen forever, and we’re scrambling to find our way back into the mix, which we did over the break. And now in one short week, we’re right back where we started with a long road trip, and a back-to-back coming tomorrow and then a six-gamer on the road. The time is now, that’s it.”

Tampa Bay is now 19-18-4 on the season. The Bolts play Pittsburgh today. A loss would lower them to .500.

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Lightning clobbered again in 6-1 defeat to Nashville Predators

Another night, another half-dozen goals, another scoreboard that was just too ugly to accept.

That’s how bad Thursday night was for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa Bay absorbed a 6-1 loss to Nashville, finishing a five-game homestand in which they hoped to make up ground at 2-2-1. The Predators scored the game’s final four goals, three of them by Colton Sissons, who had the first hat-trick of his career.

Nashville scored its goals on only 19 shots as Bolts’ goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy struggled.

“He’s a young goalie,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Eventually, he’s going to be a starting goalie in this league. You’re not going to have you’re A-game every single night. Nobody does. Under certain situations like this, Hall of Fame goaltenders have all gone through this.

“It’s how are you going to be the next game? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for the next game. That’s all you can do. Tyler Johnson doesn’t have his A-game every single night. Ondrej Palat, go down the list, everybody doesn’t have their A-game every single night. I felt for him tonight, but, in saying that, we only scored one goal. So, regardless of how he did, it would have still been tough to win just getting one.”

 The game went from 2-1 to 6-1 quickly.

“If you look at that game overall, I don’t know if it is a 6-1 game,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t as bad as the score (indicated).”

Said defenseman Victor Hedman: “Just one of those games where you can’t find a way tos core. I definitely don’t think it was a 6-1 game. A tough one to explain.”

Cooper agreed.

“We defended,” he said. “We worked. We had 70 shot attempts at the net. We held them to barely 35 or something like that. There’s a lot to build on that. We didn’t really give them much the whole night. They did an exceptional job. Well, you look at it both ways. Did they do an exceptional job blocking shots or did we shoot them into them? They had 24 blocked shots. That’s a lot. That’s more than the shots on goal they had.”

The Bolts now travel to Philadelphia and to Pittsburgh over the weekend.

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Lightning has an awful second period in loss to Winnipeg Jets

For a while, things were going along swimmingly for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And then the team drowned.

Tampa Bay gave up three goals in the second period Tuesday night, losing a 6-4 game to Winnipeg. The Bolts gave up three goals or more for the 10th time in 12 games.

“It was men against boys after that first period,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ve been able to accumulate some points at home, and we come out and do everything we wanted to do in the first period except get the lead. Just to come out like we did, we just didn’t defend. We thought about one net only and once you do that, that’s it for you. Next thing you know it’s 4-1 and that’s a long way to come back. It’s tough, too, in this league to score four goals in a game and lose. That’s tough and we found a way to do that tonight.

“We let one slip through our fingers tonight. Give Winnipeg credit. I know they outshot us two to one after the first period. When you break it down, they played two good periods of hockey and we played one. Usually that means the team playing two is going to win the game.”

The Bolts gave up the first goal for the fifth time in six games. They tied the game on Michael Peca’s first NHL goal.

“We just didn’t have a good follow-up shift after that, and the next thing you know, the penalty shot,” Cooper said. “It’s the call they made. But still, even with that going in, it’s one, but then we gave up the third one right away. After kind of a long shift in our own zone that we just did not compete hard enough and that’s what happens  against good teams.”

Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice for the Jets, including on a penalty shot.

The Bolts came back to within one after Nikita Kucherov scored twice and Ondrej Palat once.

Tampa Bay is home Thursday night against Nashville.

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Bucs stop two-point conversion to end with winning record

With 17 seconds to play, the Tampa Bay Bucs’ defense came up with one final stop on their season, and it meant a winning record.

The Bucs stopped a two-point conversion with 17 seconds remaining Sunday after three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olson slipped. Instead, the ball bounded off the facemask of Bradley McDougald, leaving the Bucs 17-16 winners. Tampa Bay finished at 9-7, their first winning season since 2010. The Bucs missed the playoffs, however, due to the tie-breaking formula.

“We didn’t come to do anything but win,” Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera said.

Said Bucs’ coach Dirk Koetter: “Please stop them. That was on my mind. Please, please stop them.’”

The Panthers finished 6-10. The Bucs finished 9-7, including a 6-2 record in their second half.

“Overall, it was an extremely frustrating day on offense,” Koetter said. “We just couldn’t get out of our own way. It was one thing after another. We finally put some plays tougher on that last drive.”

Tampa Bay sputtered for most of the day on offense – their first touchdown was an interception return by Brent Grimes. Going into the Bucs’ final legitimate drive, James Winston had a rating of only 49.49. But he hit five of six for 72 yards on a 74-yard scoring drive to win.

Keith Tandy had 12 tackles and two interceptions for the Bucs.

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Bolts start fast, then depend on Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win

The Tampa Bay Lightning got off to such a good start Saturday night, but it didn’t bother to finish.

That’s the latest bone of contention for Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team won a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Power play goals by Brian Boyle and Jonathan Drouin, and a second-period goal by Alex Killorn put the Bolts ahead 3-0, but the team allowed Carolina to come back and threaten down the stretch.

“Give credit to Carolina,” Cooper said. “We got that third goal, and we took our foot off the pedal. We could have put it away. It’s a little discouraging.Vasy had to make a lot of saves.”

Of course, that was a good thing for the Bolts, too. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been sharp lately as the Bolts have taken nine of their last possible 12 points.

“I think there was a point after (Ben Bishop) went down that he might have been feeling the weight of the world on him, that he had to carry the team,” Cooper said “That’s not true. We have to carry the team and he has to bail us out when he can. He was putting a lot of pressure on himself.

“That’s why he’s the goaltender he is. He’d put pressure on himself after a shutout.”

Vasilevskiy had 26 saves in 27 shots.

The Lightning play Winnipeg Tuesday night.

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