TAMPA, Fla. — Special teams will be in the spotlight when the Colorado Avalanche visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Thursday.
Both teams are looking for improvements on opposite sides of their respective special teams after a disappointing showing in the previous game.
The Avalanche suffered the first loss of the season in Washington on Tuesday in a 3-0 showing while allowing a pair of power play goals for the third consecutive game. In 14 penalty kills this season, Colorado has killed off just eight and sat in 29th place in the league rankings in the early stages of the season.
"Our penalty kill was not good enough," Colorado head coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post after the loss in Washington.
It went beyond just the penalty kill for Bednar, who was displeased with his team’s overall effort against the Capitals. Colorado allowed 20 shots on goal in the opening period and ended up being outshot 40-18 for the game.
"We’ll talk about our response, how we’re going to play after we win games, and how we’re going to play when we lose games," Bednar said. "I think it’s all about our response. That was a bad night. It was a tough turnaround for our guys. We’ll give them a little slack there, but it’s all about the response and what we do the next game."
That next game comes against an undefeated Tampa Bay team looking to close out a perfect four-game home stand to start the season. The Lightning have had to rally in each of their three victories this season, including scoring with 5.5 seconds left in the third period on Tuesday against Florida before picking up a shootout victory.
But in the last game against the Panthers, the Lightning went 0-for-3 on the power play, allowed a shorthanded goal while failing to generate a shot on goal with the man advantage, which included a 4-on-3 power play in overtime with a chance to win the game.
"Sometimes we get a little too comfortable," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said of his power play unites. "So we’ve mandated to the players how many shots we need. And when you get to our power play, a big part of why we’ve had success (in the first two games) is we have been shooting pucks. But when you start getting 4-on-3 power plays, you can argue it’s more of an advantage than a 5-on-4. And we were just too passive and too cute and when we had a chance to shoot, we didn’t."
In the opening two games of the season Tampa Bay combined for 14 shots on the power play before putting up a goose egg in that department in Tuesday’s victory. But Cooper didn’t want to beat his team up over what he perceived to be just one below par performance.
"We’ve played nine periods of hockey, and I’ve been pretty happy," Cooper said. "If you want to sit here and say the first eight periods of hockey, we’ve played pretty well."