Tampa Bay Lightning
Power-Play Punch Is A Top Priority
TAMPA - The Lightning took Sunday off. No practice. Does that mean they're fat and happy after winning three in a row? On the contrary, interim coach Rick Tocchet wouldn't even acknowledge that his team has momentum after completing a home-and-home sweep of the Florida Panthers with a 6-4 victory Saturday night. "I'm a big believer in 'even-keel,'" Tocchet said. "I mean, it's nice to win, but it's back to work. We've dug ourselves in a hole and we have to see what we're made of. We have a couple of days before we play Montreal Tuesday at home."While pleased with his team's season-high six goals, contributions from star and mid-level players alike and overall energy, Tocchet was irked that the Lightning didn't salt the game away late in the opening period when they had a 5-on-3 advantage. They did score during the two-man advantage when Evgeny Artyukhin redirected a shot by Mark Recchi into the net to make it 2-0, but they failed to bury the Panthers with at least one more goal. The Panthers scored two goals with the 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. "It's really frustrating that we're not scoring on the 5-on-3," Tocchet said. "It's hurt us in four or five games, where, if we score a goal, we win. We let Florida get back in the game. It was 2-0 when we should have stamped them out." Tocchet said that during the 5-on-3, his team is playing too high on the ice and looking for "the pretty shot" rather than crashing the net down low, as Florida did. "It's a situation where you can really work on it and try to tell these guys how to do it," Tocchet said. "We're going to have to make personnel changes, because I can't keep seeing it. We were 0 for, like, 10 or 11. and then Arty gets us a goal. Arty's never on the 5-on-3, so may have to start putting them out there." The Lightning continue to struggle overall with the power play at home, ranking second to last in the NHL with a 10.1 percent conversion rate (seven goals). Interestingly, their home penalty kill has been nearly the opposite, ranking fifth in the league with an 85.4 percent success rate. "I don't know if the power play tries to do too much at home or what," Recchi said. "We try to get fancy instead of just shooting the puck, and maybe that's something we've got to work on the next couple of days here. We've got to get simple and back to the basics. "Our penalty killing has been great at home and atrocious on the road 75.8 percent, 27th in the league. So if we can find a way to get them good everywhere, that will go a long way toward making us a better hockey club."