Best meets worst as Lightning host Senators
After a two-game road trip up the East Coast, the Tampa Bay Lightning return to Amalie Arena to start a four-game homestand, and the NHL's top club finds itself in an unusual situation.
They are coming off a loss.
Tampa Bay dropped a 4-1 decision in Boston on Thursday night as the Bruins outworked and dominated play for the most part. The Lightning were playing the second of a back-to-back and did not look like the club coach Jon Cooper has been riding to the top of the NHL standings since December.
The Lightning (49-12-4) host Ottawa on Saturday, when Senators interim coach Mark Crawford will make his debut after the team fired coach Guy Boucher on Friday.
Tampa Bay's franchise-record 10-game winning streak came to an end in Boston -- as did a 14-game point streak. The team fell to 6-3-0 in the second half of back-to-back contests, and backup goalie Louis Domingue had his club-record 11-game winning streak halted despite stopping 37 of 41 shots.
Worse yet, the league's top-ranked offense looked anemic against the Bruins, generating just 21 shots -- one more than its season low. Tampa Bay managed only nine shots on Boston goalie Tuukka Rask through the first two periods.
The players said they had to step up in the remainder of the season, and the accountability starts at the top.
"We've just got to realize you just can't come into games and expect to win. I know we've had a tremendous season, but we keep reiterating the fact that we want to prepare down this last 17 games going the way that we want to into the playoffs," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.
"Maybe a little blessing in disguise tonight, play a good team that plays the right way, that checks really well and you get a result like that. Maybe a little bit of a wake-up call for us."
For the lowly Senators, who rank last in the NHL standings with just 49 points, all the news has been made off the ice.
After trading Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman before the season started, Ottawa shipped out star forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone before the trade deadline, draining the club of its standout talent and setting up a lengthy rebuild.
The team added to the makeover Friday morning when it announced that Boucher had been relieved of his duties and that Crawford, in his third season as the Senators' associate coach, would become the new bench boss on an interim basis.
Crawford has previously coached the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. He is 549-421-78 over his career with 103 ties. He coached the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup title in 1996.
"I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild," general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement.
"In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head coaching experience."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 1, 2019