Lightning aim to turn up intensity for Game 4
Detroit — The Lightning players talked about Sunday’s 2-0 loss in Game 3 to the Red Wings as a product of lagging desire and intensity on their part.
If Tampa Bay matches the Wings energy level in front of the home fans in Detroit, players believe they can win Game 4 Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay also hopes to take fewer penalties so the players who staff the penalty kill will have more energy than the dozen offenses for which they were whistled into the box in Game 2 allowed.
“Ultimately, when you’re spending the whole night in the penalty box that really disrupts what’s going on,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We just spent too much time in our own end, chip it out, and have to change — chip it out, and have to change.
“In terms of offensive opportunities, we were one-and-dones. It just crushes your flow. That led to us having our lowest shot output of the year.”
The Wings believe a key to the game was taking only two penalties the first two periods, and one was a coincidental minor, so there was no power play for the Lightning. By the third period, they had expended a lot less energy than the Lightning, skating hard to kill penalties.
Valtteri Filppula, the former Red Wings forward, said the shutout loss was a combination of poor effort on the part of his new team and a strong effort on the part of his old team.
“I don’t know that we played as well as we would have liked,” Filppula said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They played really well; a lot better than us.”
Tyler Johnson continually dominated the Red Wings through nine playoff games, including seven last season and the two in Tampa last week, before getting no shots on net in Game 3. He agreed it was a combination of better play by the Wings and a diminished performance by the Lightning.
“I think there were a lot of factors to it,” Johnson said. “Penalties are always a big thing. But the biggest thing is, they were just a little more desperate than us. You know, they deserved to win that game.
“Now, it’s up to us to come back and show that we’re determined and desperate as well. I mean, you have to be. This next game will be critical.”
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Focus on special teams
Cooper said it is surprising special teams have not played a more significant role in the series, and his club emphasized the power play in its mandatory practice Monday.
“Both teams are probably looking themselves in the mirror a little on the power play,” he said. “Special teams have not really come into play in this series so far, which is a little surprising because I’m sure our series is leading the NHL in penalties.
“But, as these series go on, you need to score that power play goal.”
Both teams had difficulty on the power play throughout much of the season, but thanks to a late-season spurt, the Red Wings ranked 13th with an 18.8 percent success rate.
The Lightning were 28th at 15.8 percent.
No chicken talk
Center Brian Boyle, who was assessed a 10-minute misconduct along with Lightning center Alex Killorn and Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader as time expired in the third period, was not keen to talk about taunting Abdelkader by imitating a chicken.
Abdelkader said after the game he did not want to engage Boyle in a fight in part because of rules that a player whose hands are taped, as Abdelkader’s were after he pounded Mike Blunden toward the end of Game 2, faces extra discipline if he cuts an opponent in a fight.
Boyle (6-foot-7, 243 pounds) reacted to Abdelkader’s reluctance by putting his hands towards his armpits, flapping his arms and strutting, a bit like a chicken.
“It was kind of a spur of the moment thing,” said Boyle, who steered the conversation towards the poor game he thought the Lightning played.
“It shouldn’t be 15 questions about the last three minutes of a game in which we got manhandled.”