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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Bolts notes: Panik not making his own breaks

TAMPA — If Tampa Bay Lightning F Richard Panik didn’t have bad luck this season, he’d have no luck at all.

There was that time he was staring at an empty net with the puck on his stick, only to see teammate Alex Killorn fill the crease and end up blocking the would-be goal.

But sometimes you have to make your own luck, as well, and with just eight shots in 13 games — four of which came in one game — entering Thursday, Panik has short-changed his chances. The 23-year-old rookie hopes to turn that all around.

“There are games where I think I play good, but I know that I can play way better,’’ said Panik, who had his third multi-shot game of the season and his second even-strength point on Thursday. “I just have to keep it simple, start over again, do the simple things like shoot the puck on net, I need to do that more. So it’s kind of frustrating right now, and I just have to work hard in practice, and eventually the chances will come and I will be fine.’’

In 25 games with the Lightning last season, the 2009 second-round pick scored five goals, including some highlight-worthy plays that showcased his skill level. But with no goals and five assists — and only one even-strength point — that part of his game has yet to show up this season.

Panik was also a team worst minus-9 heading into Thursday’s game against Edmonton.

“I think he has much more in him than he has shown,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And you have to feel for him, because it seems like every time he steps on the ice a puck ends up in our net. He’s been a little unfortunate for him, and things will come around for him. But my one beef with him right now is (shots).

“And if you polled the guys, he’s probably a top-three shot on our team and he needs to use it. I think he gets caught in that he wants to make an extra pass, like so many players do, and in this league you can’t do it, you don’t have the time. The opportunities to score are minimal, and when you get there you have to take advantage of it.’’

Panik has bounced between the second and third lines most of the season. But with the promotion of RW Brett Connolly last week, Connolly moved into the top nine, while Panik has skated on the fourth line with C Nate Thompson and LW B.J. Crombeen.

“His effort is there, he’s plugging away,’’ Cooper said of Panik. “Guys go through this, especially rookies, and this isn’t the time to lose faith him. I know what he can do.’’

Sitting out

At the start of the season, Pierre-Cedric Labrie was a staple in the lineup on the fourth line. But Thursday he sat out as a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game and fourth in the past six.

“I think he’s just a product of the way our team has been playing and why he hasn’t been in lately,’’ Cooper said. “We weren’t scoring, we need a little bit more speed and skill, per se, in the lineup that I thought maybe it would invigorate us a little bit. ... And we’ve been rolling. So, it’s hard to break that up.

“So it’s not anything about his play, he deserves to be here, he’s going to be here. It’s we are just at that stage right now where we are on a bit of roll, we’ve gone with some of these guys and we’ll continue to go with them.’’

Military Night

The Lightning wore camouflage jerseys during warm-ups as part of Military Appreciation night.

The jerseys will be autographed and will be put up for auction on tampabaylightning.com and through NHL.com. The auction will run through Nov. 18 at 5 p.m., with all proceeds to benefit the Lightning Foundation.

Nuts and Bolts

D Keith Aulie, D Andrej Sustr and Labrie were scratched. ... C Steven Stamkos has goals in five consecutive games, two short of tying his career high. Stamkos has 39 career multi-goal games. ... Tampa Bay has outscored its opposition 13-5 in the first period. ... The Lightning have been outshot 159-134 in the second period this season.

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