MONTREAL — Steve Stamkos’ puzzling playoff scoring slump continues but neither the Tampa Bay Lightning star nor coach Jon Cooper seem overly worried.
Stamkos, who had 43 regular-season goals, had one goal and seven assists in 11 post-season games going into Game 5 of Tampa’s second-round series with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
He looked to have had a breakthrough in Game 2 in Montreal with a goal and two assists in a 6-2 win. But then was held without a shot in two games on home ice.
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“I’d like to get some more opportunities,” he said. “But we’ve obviously still found ways to win games and that’s what’s important at this time of the year. I don’t think it’s from lack of effort or anything like that.
“I’m not frustrated at all. I’m excited. We’re up in the second round of the playoffs. This is what it’s about this time of year is wins, so definitely the furthest thing is the frustration at this point. I’m excited about the opportunity to come into each game and try to help our team win.”
Cooper feels it’s only a matter of time before his captain breaks out with another big game.
“You look around the league, from team to team, it’s not to say it’s unexpected guys that are carrying their teams but it’s not the usual suspects,” he said. “It’s a rarity he goes two games without a shot but as I’ve said before, Stammer’s done a lot of great things for us.
“It’s just there’s such a spotlight on him to score, when he doesn’t, the alarms go off and they shouldn’t because he’s been a heck of a player for us.”
The Lightning is looking to rebound from a 6-2 defeat on home ice Thursday night that saw goalie Ben Bishop pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots.
Afterward, Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban said his team was due to break out offensively and Bishop had been “sitting on a horseshoe.”
That drew a smile from the goaltender.
“Well, P.K.’s P.K., you know,” he said. “We’re not worried about that.
“We didn’t have our best game last game. We saw the video. We know we didn’t play that well. So we’ve just got to come out and play our game, play our system for 60 minutes, and just worry about ourselves.”