TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are still trying to find the formula that made them the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions.
Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to Detroit highlighted the team's need to play more consistent defense. Head coach Jon Cooper didn't mince words at the post-game news conference.
"You have to play defense. You have to stick your ego aside and not worry about how many points you’re going to get, or how much ice time you’re going to get," Cooper said when addressing his team's poor performance. "You gotta worry about keeping the puck out of the net. And everything positive comes from that. We have not learned it on a consistent basis, yet."
The players say they know the recipe for success, but they're simply not executing over the course of three periods.
"We just shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers, and forcing plays, and trying to keep things alive," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "And like I said, giving up odd-mans and breakaways is never going to give you a good chance to win."
The thin silver lining to Tuesday's game was captain Steven Stamkos making more franchise history. The 32-year-old center tied his friend and mentor Martin St. Louis for most points all-time in a Bolts uniform with 953.
"He means a lot, still means a lot to me in what I’ve become as a person and as a player. Just a role model that he’s been to me," Stamkos said after collecting three assists against Detroit. "To have your name right up there with the great Martin St. Louis is pretty humbling."
The Lightning (46-22-8, 100 pts) are still jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference. They host the Toronto Maple Leafs (51-20-6, 108 pts) Thursday at 8 PM.