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Cooper laments Lightning’s ‘self-inflicted loss’ to Canucks

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Six

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24: Head coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)

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At some point, we have to wonder if the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t underachieving. Maybe they’re just not very good, at least in 2016-17?

Friday presented a possible bit of evidence; the Lightning lost one of those games you have to win, dropping a 4-2 loss to the struggling Vancouver Canucks. Bolts coach Jon Cooper said the sort of things many were likely thinking.

“Just a self-inflicted loss is what it is,” Cooper said, according to Bryan Burns of the team site. " ... In the end, it’s a tough game not to get points out of, that’s for sure.”

There have been far too many of those for the Lightning lately, as they fall to 15-14-2 in a competitive Eastern Conference. The Lightning are now 2-6-1 in their last nine games, with optimism becoming tougher and tougher to come by.

Then again, the Canucks are in a spot where they might hand opponents some unexpected losses. This win began a four-game homestand for Vancouver, with a date against John Tortorella and the red-hot Blue Jackets on Sunday. Overall, they play nine of their next 11 games at home.

Maybe the Canucks will make this loss look a better in retrospect, but right now, it looks pretty bad. Besides, moral victories mean very little to a Tampa Bay team that needs every point it can get.