LIGHT­NING

Tampa Bay Times - - Light­ing Re­port -

to Cooper’s dis­pleased ex­pres­sion.

“That first five min­utes set the tone for us — ac­tu­ally, the first shift,” he said. “We throw it on the bench in the first cou­ple of sec­onds, take the penalty and then can’t kill it off.”

That penalty, a high-stick from de­fense­man Erik Cer­nak, turned into a power-play goal for for­ward Brock Nel­son 1:21 in.

For­ward Cal Clut­ter­buck made it 2-0 at 4:27 on a shot that de­flected off An­drei Vasilevskiy’s skate and bounced into the net. Just 36 sec­onds later, de­fense­man Devon Toews made it 3-0. He picked up a loose puck and scored from the point.

Af­ter that, the Is­lan­ders were able to play con­ser­va­tively to pro­tect their lead rather than re­ally hav­ing to at­tack the Light­ning.

Stral­man stressed the need to play bet­ter de­fense over­all. It’s some­thing he has said be­fore. He hasn’t been the only one to say that, but he might have put it the strong­est when he said for­wards may have to sac­ri­fice a goal or two in or­der to be sharper on de­fense.

Sun­day, Stral­man said the of­fense has over­shad­owed the Light­ning’s de­fects. Tampa Bay has won games it could have lost be­cause it’s a high-scor­ing team. That won’t cut it in the play­offs, though.

“We’re not as strong as we need to be go­ing into the play­offs,” Stral­man said. “Look­ing ahead, com­ing back from the bye week and the (All-Star) break (at the end of the month), we have to move to­wards a game that will carry us in the post­sea­son. This is not it.”

That’s the re­ac­tion to a loss like this — not just that the Light­ning wasn’t good enough to win Sun­day but that that kind of ef­fort def­i­nitely won’t be good enough to win in the long haul when the losses mean more. The Light­ning wants to be more than a good reg­u­lar-sea­son team. The league’s top team is look­ing for­ward to a long run in the post­sea­son.

“It wasn’t just one or two guys in the first pe­riod (Sun­day), it was everybody,” McDon­agh said. “That’s a recipe for dis­as­ter, and (the Is­lan­ders) took ad­van­tage of it.”

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