Tampa Bay — The pressure is getting turned up on a lot of slumping Tampa Bay Lightning players but maybe none more so than Steven Stamkos.
Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Red Wings in Game 5 only stoked the flames, as the Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead and can win the first-round series Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
After scoring 43 goals during the regular season, Stamkos has none through five games and has two assists with a minus-1 rating.
Stamkos was held in check Saturday, limited to two shots on net in 19 minutes.
"It's tough, obviously I want to produce and it's not for lack of effort," Stamkos said. "In fact, I'm working my butt off out there. It's just not going like I want it."
It wasn't only Stamkos who was bottled up in Game 5 as the Red Wings arguably played their best all-around game of the series.
But Stamkos was given little room to operate, in particular, against any match-up he faced on the ice.
"Obviously I want to help our team win," said Stamkos, who has eight goals and 11 assists in 27 career playoff games. "No one else is feeling sorry for us or myself. We realize we've got to work hard and we'll keep doing like we're doing."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was adamant about not pinning all the Lightning's offensive troubles on Stamkos.
"We've gone eight of the last nine periods without scoring (a goal) and Stammer's not playing the whole game," Cooper said. "There's a lot of other guys who have scored and haven't (in the series) so it's not on him. It's on all of us."
The Lightning felt they had a good enough start, had the crowd going and were getting pressure on the Red Wings, but eventually it all turned.
And it doesn't help the Lightning when its offensive problems continue, as Cooper said, now having gone without a goal in eight of the last nine periods.
"We came out great. The first 10 minutes, I thought we dictated the play," Cooper said. "Unfortunately we were not hitting the net very often, which was tough."
Cooper felt allowing Riley Sheahan's power-play goal with 23 seconds left in the first period, giving the Red Wings a 1-0 lead heading into intermission, was a difference-maker.
"To come into the room down 1-0, that was a little bit deflating," Cooper said.
Said Lightning forward Tyler Johnson: "The score is a little different than what the game can tell. I don't necessarily think it was a 4-0 game. They deserved to win, I'm not taking that away from them, but I felt we could have been better.
"It's frustrating that we had the chance to score and make it a 1-1 game, 2-1 game or whatever it may have been. It just didn't work for us, and that kind of changed the momentum of the entire time."