TAMPA — Shoot the puck.
It seems like a simple act, but the Tampa Bay Lightning struggle with it at times. Such was the case Saturday, when Tampa Bay had nine shots on goal midway through an eventual 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg.
Though the Lightning ended the game with 29 shots, head coach Jon Cooper was understandably vocal after the game about the difference between the first and second halves, particularly with the lack of offense in the past two weeks.
“Disappointing,” Cooper said. “You preach it, you practice it and you see a little bit of success with it the previous game (a 3-1 win against Ottawa) and you see no success against Columbus and no success against Winnipeg in the first 30 minutes and you just have to keep trying to learn from it.’’
It’s not an issue that has recently crept up. It’s been an issue for good portions of the season, starting with the second game when Tampa Bay failed to register a shot on goal during the first period in Chicago.
In 18 games this season, the Lightning were held under 30 shots on goal, including 12 times under 25 shots. Tampa Bay was held to fewer than 10 shots in eight periods during the past six games.
“I think the game would change if the only goals that were shown on highlight shows were the ones that go off skates and butts in the net,” Cooper said. “If those were the only ones they showed and didn’t show the ‘cool guy’ goals, you would see completely different players.
“But everybody wants to be that guy. He wants to score that type of goal. And there are only a few guys who score those kind of goals, and they don’t do it all the time. And the really, really, really, really great players, they score those goals along with the dirty ones.”
Tampa Bay’s last-second goal from Nate Thompson at the end of the second period against Winnipeg might not have happened if not for a subtle play by D Radko Gudas.
Gudas was on his way back to gain an icing call on Winnipeg when he picked up speed to earn the whistle with 2.6 seconds left. Thompson scored, officially, with 1.1 seconds left on the clock.
After the game, Gudas said he heard one of the on-ice officials start to count down the amount of remaining time.
“I figured I better pick it up,” Gudas said.
That allowed just enough time for Marty St. Louis to win the faceoff back to Gudas, who sent a puck toward the goal that was shot in by Thompson.
G Anders Lindback, who kept the Lightning in the game on Saturday, has received little offensive support in his seven starts this season. Lindback has just one regulation victory, two overall.
Only twice has Tampa Bay scored more than three goals in Lindback’s seven starts, while the Lightning have scored one or fewer goals on four occasions. Tampa Bay has 14 goals with Lindback in goal, an average of two per game.
“You have to tip your hat to Anders Lindback, he was exceptional when we needed him,” Cooper said of Saturday’s effort. “If Winnipeg gets that second (goal) we probably are standing here with less of a point. But he kept us in it . ... Our defense was there, our goaltender was there again and our inability to get shots to the net cost us a point.”