(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will begin life without Guy
Boucher, as the disappointing club visits the Winnipeg Jets for Sunday's clash
at MTS Centre.
The Lightning made a major announcement Sunday morning, releasing Boucher of
his head coaching duties after two-plus seasons with the team. Tampa general
manager Steve Yzerman said assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will
share the coaching responsibilities in Sunday's game.
"Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these
past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done," Yzerman said in
a statement. "But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are
heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our
A 5-3 loss at Ottawa on Saturday dropped the Lightning's record to 13-17-1.
They are fourth in the Southeast Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference,
five points out of a playoff spot.
Perhaps, Boucher was a victim of his own early success as he raised
expectations considerably for the franchise in his first year behind the
bench. As a rookie NHL head coach in 2010-11 he led Tampa to a 46-25-11 record
and reached the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Boston Bruins
by a 1-0 score in Game 7.
However, the Lightning missed the playoffs in 2011-12 and the club's
regression has continued into 2013.
The Lightning's performance on Saturday did not reflect well on Boucher, as
Tampa fell behind the Senators 4-0 in the opening period before showing some
late signs of life in the 5-3 setback.
Tyler Johnson scored twice and Teddy Purcell also had a goal for the
Lightning, who fell to 0-2 on a three-game road trip.
"We can't dwell on anything right now," said Johnson. "No one is feeling sorry
for us, we just have to get things together and get a win, that's all there is
Mathieu Garon didn't make it out of the first period as he gave up three goals
on 11 shots while Cedrick Desjardins was charged with just one goal on 20
shots the rest of the way.
The Lightning will head home after Sunday's game and prepare for Tuesday's
test against Buffalo. The meeting with the Sabres will kick off a three-game
homestand at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Jets, meanwhile, will try to shake off a pair of disturbing home losses
against the Washington Capitals when they host Lightning.
Winnipeg, which leads the Southeast by two points over Carolina, hosted the
Capitals in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday and things did not go
well for the home team. Washington notched a 4-0 victory in the opener and
then took the second test by a 6-1 count.
The Jets will try to turn things around when they close a four-game homestand
on Sunday. Winnipeg is 7-8-0 at MTS Centre this season and has won two of
three home meetings against the Lightning since the franchise relocated from
Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
The Jets and Lightning have split a pair of meetings so far this season, but
Sunday marks the first encounter in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg surrendered two goals in each of the three periods against the
Capitals on Friday and Alex Ovechkin scored twice for the visitors. Dustin
Byfuglien scored the lone goal for the Jets.
Starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was pulled in the second period after
allowing three goals on nine shots. Al Montoya stopped 12 shots in relief for
the Jets, who have lost three of four overall.
"You can dice it and slice it however you want, but we didn't win and that's
disappointing," said Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel.
Jets defenseman Mark Stuart suffered an undisclosed injury in Thursday's game
and was forced to sit out the rematch. The veteran blueliner is questionable
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