Even though Tampa Bay’s five-game road trip ended poorly in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon, Lightning coach Jon Cooper is pleased with his club’s performance overall.
The Lightning will be back at home Tuesday night, hosting the Los Angeles Kings in the first meeting between the clubs before wrapping up their season series on Jan. 18.
Cooper put the quintet of road games in perspective after the Senators spun the first shutout against his club all season on Sunday, recording a 4-0 whitewashing anchored by Brady Tkachuk’s first career hat trick and goalie Anton Forsberg’s first-ever shutout in his 66th NHL appearance.
Before Sunday’s setback, Tampa Bay reeled off wins in Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal and Toronto.
“When you’re getting these road trips, whether it’s three, four or five games, you’ve got to take more points than games played, and we did that,” Cooper said of the defeat. “If we lose the first game and win the next four, it’s probably a way better feeling than it is right now.”
The key contest was the sandwich game in Quebec in a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Canadiens.
The Lightning trailed 2-1 late, but Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat delivered tallies in the final 2:09 to steal the match in regulation.
That win and the 5-3 victory over the Maple Leafs two nights later set up the defending Cup champions well on their road swing.
“For the big picture, those eight out of 10 (points), that’s a good trip,” said Cooper, who earned his 400th career win in Toronto.
Tampa Bay lost forward Anthony Cirelli (upper body) and defenseman Zach Bogosian (lower body) to injuries on the trip, but both are not expected to miss much time.
The Kings have been trying to regain their form since winning seven straight games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11.
Getting feisty Brendan Lemieux back in the lineup was an immediate step in the right direction.
In his first game back from a five-game suspension, the 25-year-old left wing notched the game-winning goal in the third period as the Kings beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Saturday night.
Lemieux was parked for five games by the league for biting Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk on Nov. 27.
Known for edgy play that sometimes crosses the line, Lemieux — playing on his third team during his five-year career — has five goals and an assist in 15 games in his second season with Los Angeles.
However, the Wild’s Marcus Foligno was not impressed by Lemieux’s post-goal antics, which included celebrating past the visiting bench.
“Just him being him,” said Foligno. “Just scores one goal and comes by our bench and thinks he’s Sidney Crosby out here.
“You got to forget about that guy. He’s an agitator, and not a very good one at that.”
The Kings made two moves on Sunday that affected their blue line.
L.A. placed veteran defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) on injured reserve and called up rear guard Christian Wolanin from the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
Edler, 35, had to be helped off the ice after a hard hit from Minnesota forward Brandon Duhaime early in Saturday’s win.
Coach Todd McLellan said he expects Edler to be out “long term.”
–Field Level Media