Thu, 02 Dec 2021

Cup favorites Lightning, Avs try to get back on track

Field Level Media
23 Oct 2021, 07:40 GMT+10

Winless on home ice in their first two games, the Tampa Bay Lightning are suffering through a pronounced power outage.

The Stanley Cup champions will try to get back on track Saturday night when they host Colorado as the Avalanche conclude their lone trip to the Sunshine State.

In its second home contest, Tampa Bay succumbed to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, losing 4-1 after its in-state rival found the net three times in the final period.

The Lightning's biggest problem was an unproductive power play that went 0-for-6, including a 94-second five-on-three advantage in the first period that could have changed the direction of the scoreless affair.

"(The power play) is going to be a work in progress," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, whose squad has been outscored 10-3 at home and has not scored a first-period goal yet this season. "Tonight, it was the difference in the game."

The power-play unit is 3-for-15 overall (20 percent) and a punchless 0-for-7 at its home rink.

While the absence of first power-play sniper Nikita Kucherov (lower-body injury, out indefinitely) was a major part of Tuesday's lack of production, the goal shortage extends to the bottom six as well.

After losing the entire third line of Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow in the offseason, plus Tyler Johnson, the replacement group has struggled to score.

Pat Maroon, Ross Colton and Mathieu Joseph filled the spot against Florida, while the fourth line featured Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh -- the latter two rookie wingers.

The six forwards have combined to generate just a goal and an assist.

Also, newcomer Corey Perry -- elevated to the top line in place of Kucherov -- has not posted a point and is a minus-5 for the season, worst among Tampa Bay's forwards.

The Lightning assigned defenseman Cal Foote (finger surgery) to AHL affiliate Syracuse for a conditioning stint Friday.

A popular preseason pick to hoist the next Stanley Cup, the Avalanche are off to slow start with three straight losses and arrive by the bay having been humbled 4-1 by the Panthers Thursday night in South Florida.

For Colorado to achieve the lofty expectations some predicted, the club will need much better play from its superstars.

Gabriel Landeskog played in his first match since serving a two-game suspension for cross-checking Chicago forward Kirby Dach and registered a minus-2 showing.

After each going a brutal minus-5 in Tuesday's 6-3 defeat against the Capitals in Washington, forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen both posted minus-2 efforts against the undefeated Panthers, though Rantanen did pot his second goal and MacKinnon added an assist.

Landeskog, Colorado's captain, said he is not concerned with losing three of four after the NHL returned to a full 82-game schedule.

"I mean, we've got 78 games left," said Landeskog. "That's a lot of hockey. Start with one, and obviously playing another tough opponent here in a couple of days (at Tampa Bay).

"There's no secret formula, right? We've got to work and that's what we are doing and what we are trying to do."

Rantanen and J.T. Compher pace the Avalanche with two goals, and the duo along with Nazem Kadri each have produced a team-best four points.

Darcy Kuemper (1-2-0, 3.79 GAA) has manned the net in three games and should return against the Lightning after Jonas Johansson made his season debut Tuesday. He is expected to take on Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy (2-2, 3.22).

--Field Level Media

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