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Lightning looking to get their mojo back in Motown

Sportsnaut
Mar 4, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) skate after the puck during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are seeking a Stanley Cup three-peat, but this month, bad things that have come in threes.

They had a three-game losing streak earlier this month and now they’re trying to end another one as they head to Detroit for a Saturday matinee.

The two-time defending champions have lost each of their past three games by a single goal. Boston rallied to defeat them 3-2 Thursday.

“We’re better than this and if we’re going to execute the way we’re executing right now, it’s not going to get better anytime soon,” coach John Cooper said. “So, that’s a big part of our game, being able to play the game with pace and execute and we’re just not doing that right now. The only way you get out of it is you work your way out of it. You just can’t hope your way out of it, you have to work your way out of it. We’ve got some work to do.”

Team captain Steven Stamkos admitted that the team has been shaken by the slump. The Lightning’s latest loss has dropped them into fourth place in the Atlantic Division standings. They entered Friday eight points behind first-place Florida and one point below Toronto and Boston.

“It’s the toughest thing to get back in the world, in any facet of the world is confidence,” Stamkos said. “It’s such a fickle word and something that people take for granted, I think. When you have it, it’s great, but it goes away pretty quick, and you have to grind and battle and not cheat the game to get it back. That’s what we’ll look to do.”

While losing six of their last eight, the usually high-octane Lightning have scored just 17 goals.

“Part of you is sitting here saying ‘Hey, we’ve got a veteran team, been there before, won a couple times. We’ll come out of it,'” Cooper said. “But the other part of you is like, ‘Why are we in this and why are we in this at this point of the season?'”

A date with the Red Wings might just cure their ills. The Lightning are 22-2-2 against Detroit, dating to the 2015-16 season.

Detroit is 2-7-1 over its last 10 games. Following a Tuesday home win against Philadelphia, the Wings lost to the New York Islanders, 5-2, on the road Thursday.

“It is frustrating, not being able to string some (victories) together,” Detroit first-line center Dylan Larkin said. “We have guys out of the lineup but we have to find a way to start getting on a roll.”

The Islanders took the lead nine seconds into the game and the Red Wings didn’t score until New York had a 4-0 third-period lead.

“We didn’t start well and we didn’t have enough offensive zone time until the second and third periods,” Larkin said. “It’s a team that likes to play at home and you have to be better at the start. It’s an unfortunate play to start and we’re down 1-0 nine seconds in, but we have to find a way to make it 1-1.”

Both teams are playing the first game of a back-to-back. Tampa Bay faces the Islanders on Sunday while Detroit plays in Pittsburgh.

–Field Level Media