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Posted On Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 1:31 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hedman back for Lightning after missing one game

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will be back in the lineup Thursday as the Lightning host the Ottawa Senators at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Hedman missed one game when he was hit in the leg with a puck during the Lightning's game Jan. 18 against the San Jose Sharks. That was one game too many for Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

"You miss a 24-minute [of ice time per game] defenseman that plays the whole 200 feet," Cooper said. "You take arguably the best defenseman off any team and it will leave a hole. When he is on the ice it is harder for teams to get into our zone. Just the way he can cut the ice down on teams and not give them space just because of his speed, and then we usually have the puck a lot more when he is on the ice, just in the sense that he retrieves it quicker and he's got that ability to jump into plays.

"He plays all situations for us, power plays and penalty kill, so it's tough when you miss guys like that."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 11:17 AM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Niemi expected back in crease against Lightning

TAMPA -- In preparation for an afternoon puck-drop, the San Jose Sharks and the Tampa Bay Lightningopted against morning skates Saturday.

Antti Niemi is expected to start in goal for the Sharks after backup Alex Stalock shut out the Florida PanthersThursday.

Forward Logan Couture skated with San Jose on Friday, his first time on the ice since undergoing hand surgery Wednesday. He's expected to miss at least two more weeks.

The Lightning also had a key injured player on the ice this week as Steven Stamkos participated in a full team skate on Thursday, his first since breaking his right tibia more than two months ago. Thursday also saw Tampa Bay assign defenseman Andrej Sustr to the American Hockey League. The move was necessitated by the return of injured veteran defenseman Sami Salo, who played Thursday in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.

Here are the projected lineups for the Sharks and Lightning:

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 1:51 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Martinek returning to Islanders lineup

TAMPA -- After missing 22 games with back spasms, veteran defenseman Radek Martinek will return to the New York Islanders lineup when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

His addition counters the loss of Travis Hamonic, who is out with an upper-body injury sustained during a game Jan. 12 at Dallas.

The Islanders will start Kevin Poulin in goal. His career-high five-game win streak ended Tuesday in Florida. Poulin became the first Islanders goalie since Rick DiPietro (Feb 12-21, 2008, six straight) to win five straight games.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 12:58 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stamkos joins Lightning for full morning skate

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning had a pleasant surprise at their morning skate Thursday when Steven Stamkos hit the ice along with the rest of the team.

For Stamkos, recovering from a broken right tibia sustained Nov. 11, it marked the first time he participated in a full skate. He did not take part in line rushes or power-play drills, but did take part in a 2-on-1 drill and worked on faceoffs.

"It's obviously not a practice," Stamkos said, "but to be able to do some drills with the guys is definitely a positive."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper also saw it as a positive, but still sounded a note of caution.

"He's been pretty eager to get out there and I think his head is further along than his leg is," Cooper said. "I have no problem with that. I like his energy, his eagerness. It's just a sign that every day he is getting closer. That is a good thing. I'm just waiting for the day when [Lightning trainer] Tom Mulligan comes to me and says, 'By the way, number 91 is good to go.' It'll be like a mini-post Christmas."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.09.2014 / 12:58 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Quick pit stop at home for Lightning; Bishop to IR

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning make a brief one-game visit home to play the Washington Capitals on Thursday, but after four consecutive road games prior and three more to go after, being back in Tampa feels more like a visit than a homecoming.

"To be honest, this is game five of the road trip for us," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "This is no different than going into a road city. We jumped in here, the only difference is that we are not staying in a hotel. You come in, you play, you leave the next day and go to the next city. And we have three more cities. We've treated this like an eight-game road trip."

Tampa Bay will still be without their top goaltender, Ben Bishop, who is on injured reserve with a sprained right wrist sustained during the opening minutes of a Jan. 5 game against the Edmonton Oilers. He is eligible to return Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but there are no guarantees.

"I don't know," Cooper said. "The concern will end when he comes in and says, 'Coach, I'm ready to go.' He can't play until Tuesday; that would be the earliest he is eligible to play. I just hope at that time that he's ready to go. It's like the sprained ankle, sprained wrist, sprained anything; he may come off IR but he's still not ready to go."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 1:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning ready for Rangers in second of back-to-back

TAMPA -- When the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing 65 minutes of uneven hockey Saturday, the New York Rangers were relaxing in their hotel. It took a shootout to decide matters in the Lightning's 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

This might appear give the Rangers a huge advantage heading into the game Sunday against the Lightning, but appearances can be deceiving.

The Lightning are 4-0-1 record in the second half of back-to-back games this season and Tampa Bay is 14-3-2 at home, going unbeaten in regulation in its past six games at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"It might mean something or it might not," Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. "It depends on how we play. This League has a lot of travel and all, so players are used to it."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 1:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning's St. Louis remodels game with Stamkos out

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning resume play after the holiday break sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind the Boston Bruins and two points ahead of their opponent Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens.

Steven Stamkos has missed 20 games with a broken tibia and the Lightning have gone 11-6-3 while maintaining a spot near the top of the division since losing him Nov. 11. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper points to Martin St. Louis as the reason the team has sustained its momentum.

"Stamkos had been his linemate for four-and-a-half years and Marty had to reinvent himself," Cooper said. "All he has done is lead us like a champion the last 10 games. Somebody had to pick us up after Stamkos went down and that's what captains do. He picked us up and he has led us the way ever since.

"That's why he is who he is. There are only a few special guys who can do things like that. You look at where he had to come from and how late he got to the NHL; he has had to fight through everything on the way up. You look at all the challenges he has had in the past, this has got to be one of the biggest ones. To lead a young, inexperienced -- I think we are the second-least inexperienced team in the League -- and to take a bunch of kids and put us where we are now, it's a testament to what he has brought to us."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 1:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning take pride in third-period performances

TAMPA -- The third period of a game has been like unwrapping a big Christmas present of late for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In their previous three contests, the Lightning have used the final period to propel themselves to three consecutive wins. They produced three unanswered goals to break a scoreless tie against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 15. Tampa Bay scored two goals in the final three minutes, including one with four seconds left in regulation before winning in a shootout two days later against the New York Islanders.

Two days later against the Nashville Predators, the Lightning proved they could take a lead into the third and still control the final 20 minutes in a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.

Success in the final period is no accident, Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said.

"We've talked about that," Cooper said. "Get the lead, extend the lead, protect the lead, kind of deal. You have to be able to do it during games. You've got to give yourself a chance to win the game when you get to the third, and we've been doing that."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 1:43 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning get Hedman back, look to support Lindback

TAMPA -- In their previous trip to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Oct. 24, 2010, the Nashville Predatorsstarted a 6-foot-6 behemoth in the net and he responded by making 42 saves and leading them to a 4-3 win, their first in Tampa since their inaugural season in 1998-99.

Thursday these two teams meet again, at Tampa Bay Times Forum, and that same oversized netminder will be on the ice again, only this time he’ll be wearing a Lightning sweater.

Anders Lindback will make his 10th start of the season and first against his previous team. He’ll bring a 2-6-1 record into the game, but that hardly is indicative of how he has played. When Lindback has been between the pipes the Lightning are averaging 1.8 goals per game. Contrast that with the 3.04 goals of support that Tampa Bay is generating for its other goalie, Ben Bishop.

"We're scoring goals for one guy and not scoring for the other," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I look at Lindback and I think the guys are pressed to get him goals. We have to reverse our mindset a little."

Despite his current record, Nashville coach Barry Trotz knows from personal experience how good Lindback can be.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings, Lightning have similar issues

TAMPA -- The game Thursday between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings looks like a matchup between two pretty even teams, even in the injury column.

The Red Wings have four skaters out with injury, including Henrik Zetterberg. The Lightning have six players hurt, including Steven Stamkos.

The Red Wings are coming off a shootout loss Tuesday against the Florida Panthers; the Lightning lost in a shootout Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.

And to top it off, Detroit enters the game one point ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division.

"Many people have said that we're playing teams that are healthy and we are banged-up and we can't sit here and have a pity party over it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Everybody goes through it. But [Thursday] we're playing a team that is just as banged-up as we are. So there is no excuses about what is going to go on."


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