Tampa Bay Sports Day

NHL: Oilers Edge Lightning in Shootout

EDMONTON, Alberta — It’s time for the Tampa Bay Lightning to start killing penalties.

After Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop vented his frustrations about the team’s penalty killing struggles. Both Oilers’ goals in regulation were scored on the man advantage, spoiling what was a gritty road effort by the injury-riddled Lightning.

“The penalty kill, we’ve got to step up as players,” Bishop said. “Enough’s enough here. We’ve got to have more passion to kill these penalties because it’s starting to get almost embarrassing. The coaches are giving us the structure, it’s about us going out there and doing it. It comes upon us, it starts with the goalies. We’ve got to change something here. It’s on us, the players.”

The Lightning rank 26th in the NHL in penalty killing at 78.2 percent.

Tampa Bay was missing five forwards and playing its third game in four nights on a trip through Western Canada. So it should have been cannon fodder for Edmonton, playing on home ice and with three days of rest, but it didn’t go down quietly.

Mark Letestu and Connor McDavid converted their attempts in the shootout, but a point for Tampa Bay — considering the circumstances — wasn’t a bad return.

Bishop didn’t see McDavid’s winner go in.

“I knew he was going to stickhandle a lot and I thought I had it,” he said. “He put it right between my shoulder and glove there. I just kind of tried to be patient, I didn’t really go down, I thought I had it and, obviously, he put it in a good spot.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan admitted it wasn’t pretty, but he’ll take the points.

“Some real good early jump, but not so much the polish,” he said. “The passing, receiving could be a little cleaner, and I thought we didn’t come out of our end very well. But, it’s a win. A comeback win. We’ve been on the other end of a few of those lately, so it’s nice.”

The Lightning lost wingers Ondrej Palat and team-leading scorer Nikita Kucherov on this road trip, adding to a long list of injuries that includes sniper Steven Stamkos.
With so many forwards out, Lightning coach Jon Cooper had to do the best with what he had left on the roster. He went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

From the opening faceoff, the Lightning looked very much like a tired team. It took the visitors 10 minutes to register their first shot on goal, and Oilers goalie Cam Talbot only had to make five saves in the opening period.

It wasn’t entirely a walk in the park, though. Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn had the best chance to score from either team. Shorthanded, he stripped Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera of the puck and scooted off on a breakaway. But Talbot stood his ground and Killorn fired the shot into the goalie’s midsection.

But at 3:58 of the second, the Oilers got the first goal when Leon Draisaitl’s cross-ice pass found a streaking Milan Lucic, who beat goalie Ben Bishop with his wrist shot on the power play.

The Lightning had a chance to draw level at the 12-minute mark when Brayden Point rang a shot off the post after an Oilers’ giveaway.

But the Lightning eventually got the tying goal with 1:01 left in the second. Jonathan Drouin scored on the power play as Taylor Beck, who was called up two days ago by the Oilers from the American Hockey League, could only watch from the penalty box.

The Lightning took a 2-1 lead at 2:35 of the third on a two-on-one break that was sprung after Oilers defenseman Kris Russell failed to hold a puck in the zone at the Tampa Bay blueline. Tyler Johnson roofed a shot after taking a smart pass from Cory Conacher.

The Oilers knotted the game 2-2 as Draisaitl tipped a point shot from Letestu at 7:03 on the power play.

“It was a great play by (Letestu) to read, I had a little bit of time there and I just held my stick there and it fortunately went in,” Draisaitl said.

The Lightning had the best chance in overtime when Vladislav Namestnikov rang a shot off the iron.

“We figured that tonight could really have gone either way,” Johnson said. “We had some opportunities, Vlady hits the crossbar in overtime, so I think we’re happy with our game tonight.”

GAME NOTES: After playing an exhausting three games in four nights in Western Canada, the Lightning play five of their remaining six games at home. … LW Taylor Beck was inserted into the Oilers’ lineup. The AHL’s leading scorer was called up by the Oilers Thursday from the team’s affiliate in Bakersfield, Calif. … Tampa Bay RW Nikita Kucherov, who leads the team with 30 points, is out day-to-day with a lower body injury. … LW Ondrej Palat, who got hurt in Wednesday’s victory over Calgary, was out of the Lightning lineup for the second straight game. … The Lightning also scratched C Cedric Paquette. … The Oilers activated D Eric Gryba from injured reserve, but he was scratched. Also scratched were LW Benoit Pouliot and RW Jesse Puljujarvi