TAMPA — Following a four-day mini-vacation away from game action, the Tampa Bay Lightning return to the ice tonight looking for a double dose of redemption.
With the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in town, Tampa Bay wants to erase the bad taste left behind from Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Boston as well as put forth a better effort than they did in the first meeting on Oct. 5 in Chicago, even though the Lightning left town with a shootout victory.
“Those two games come to mind with regards to not playing well this year,’’ center Steven Stamkos said.
The Lightning entered into the four-day break having to sit on the blowout loss on home ice to the defending Eastern Conference champions that dropped their record to 5-3. In the days since, Tampa Bay went through a hard practice on Monday followed by a light day of fishing and a family cookout before another practice on Wednesday.
“On Monday, we knew that was going to be a tough (practice), but guys came out and really worked hard to get better on the things that we need to and I think you saw that again (Wednesday),’’ forward B.J. Crombeen said. “I think that’s the sign of a good team. If you are practicing like that, it’s going to translate into a game.
“It’s something that we have been preaching all year, you kind of play how you practice. So if we can bring that same intensity and the same attention to detail, we like our chances just about every game.’’
The hope and belief is the lopsided loss to Boston was a bump on the radar. For the most part through eight games, Tampa Bay has brought the type of compete level needed to give the team a chance to win.
Perhaps the only other time the Lightning looked outclassed came on Oct. 5 in Chicago. For the first 50 minutes, the Lightning were outplayed on many levels as Chicago held Tampa Bay without a shot for the first period and had a 25-6 shot advantage and a two-goal lead through two periods.
Despite finding a way to erase that two-goal deficit before escaping with a shootout victory, there were no style points handed out to the Lightning.
“We won the game so that was a positive to what happened in Chicago, but it was just how we got there wasn’t ideal,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “ I really, really liked the result. I’m not sure I really enjoyed how we got there during the first 50 minutes. So I’m looking more (at tonight) and it’s not really so much the opponent, it’s how we come out and play and turn the page from Saturday night.’’
That is the ultimate goal, to move past the games that don’t go well and avoid too many lulls.
Consistency is the objective.
“You know you’re probably not going to play your best game every game and you have to limit those, especially on home ice. We know what we did wrong and we’re going to fix that,’’ Stamkos said. “It’s just about not getting too high when things are going well and not get too low when you have a game like (Saturday).
“You have to realize that that was a pretty uncharacteristic game and just try not to do that again.’’
It starts with showing a consistent compete level and refocusing on the details of the game.
“We need to get back to our habits that we’ve been preaching all year,’’ Cooper said. “We had arguably our two best practices of the short year this week. Guys had good jump and I’m really confident that they will come out and play hard.’’