The math says Tampa Bay still has a chance at the playoffs. Logic dictates otherwise. But as long as there is a fighting chance, the Lightning say there is plenty of fight in them. “We are not thinking we are out of it, so we are not going to quit,’’ goaltender Ben Bishop said. “There are still 10 games left and we are not going to throw in the towel until we are out of it.’’ Tampa Bay had a realistic shot heading into this past weekend. Following a shutout victory at Carolina on Thursday, the Lightning were four points out of the Southeast Division lead with games in hand and two of their final 12 games against division-leading Washington. But a 4-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday was followed Sunday by a 4-2 loss at the Capitals that put Tampa Bay eight points out of the division lead and the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference heading into tonight’s game against Ottawa. It’s a tough dose of reality. “Losses at this stage, especially against teams in your division, are tough to swallow,’’ forward Alex Killorn said. “But until we are mathematically out of it we are going to play as hard as we can.’’ Perhaps some of that reality has set in from above as the team called up rookie defenseman Mark Barberio from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Monday with the expectation he will make his NHL debut tonight. When Victor Hedman sustained an unspecified lower-body injury Thursday, Matt Taormina was summoned to take Hedman’s spot because he brought some NHL experience to the lineup. After the weekend losses, Taormina was sent back to Syracuse in exchange for Barberio, the AHL defenseman of the year last season. The third-year pro has eight goals and 40 points in 70 games for the Crunch this season.
Harsh reality hitting home for Lightning
Tampa Tribune | Apr 9