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Defenseless Lightning continues slump against Philadelphia

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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.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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