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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 1:41 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning stress poise under pressure

TAMPA -- Immediately after a 5-4 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference First Round series, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he thought his team played well.

On reflection, and after viewing the film, he changed his mind.

"I just think we could have had a little bit better poise under pressure in some instances," Cooper said. "I don't think our defense was moving it fast enough and I think our forwards were not helping out our defense. Our forwards have to find a way to get back a little harder and fight their way back so we can start going up ice. We played right into Montreal's game plan."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 1:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Nerves not an issue as Cooper gets Lightning ready

TAMPA -- Thursday night marks the Stanley Cup Playoff coaching debut for Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Those expecting nerves to be eating away at the young coach as Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens approaches Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS) should think again.

"When you're really in this, you don't get to see what everyone else sees," Cooper said. "I think it's more calming to be in the fire than it is to be actually watching the fire. I'm going to go home, eat the same thing, and squeeze in a little nap. I'm not going to change anything, and then I'll come back here and try to beat a team we have played four times this year."

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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 7:19 PM

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

Gudlevskis to make NHL debut with Lightning

TAMPA -- Kristers Gudlevskis, who played for Latvia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, will make his NHL debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Gudlevskis, 21, was the Lightning's fifth-round pick (No. 124) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He began the season with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL before being promoted to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. He had an 18-11-4 record with a 2.68 goals-against average and a save percentage of .901 with Syracuse.

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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 1:30 PM

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

Blue Jackets' Horton out six weeks after surgery

TAMPA -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton had abdominal surgery Friday morning and is expected to miss six weeks.

Horton missed four games with the injury before returning to the lineup Tuesday in a 4-3 win against the Phoenix Coyotes. However, he skated only eight shifts before leaving the game.

Horton, who missed the first half of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, appeared in 36 games with five goals and 19 points.

"It's a blow," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "The reason why it's a blow is the potential out on the ice. A goal scorer, big and strong. But the other thing is that he's played in big games and big moments. That's why an organization like this goes out to get a guy like him. He can offer it being around the guys but it's that in the room, in between periods and on the bench during a game, that he could have had a great effect."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 1:51 PM

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

Flyers look to solve Lightning at Tampa Bay

TAMPA -- Even though the teams have secured a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, don't expect the Tampa Bay Lightning or Philadelphia Flyers to slack off Thursday.

They have a lot to play for, and they know it.

"I like it," Flyers coach Craig Berube said about meaningful games at this point. "We know there is something on the line, and we talked about it yesterday and again today. Home-ice advantage is important."

The Lightning have been a tough team for the Flyers, and Tampa Bay Times Forum has been a tough building for them. They are 0-2-0 against Tampa Bay this season and have gone 0-6-1 here since the 2010-11 season, but Berube's plan to reverse that trend is a simple one.

"Play better," he said. "We have to play a good game because they are a good team. We need a checking mindset against this team."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:46 PM

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

Bolland likely scratch as Maple Leafs face must-win

TAMPA -- The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday facing possible elimination from the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the Maple Leafs lose to the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Phoenix Coyotes, the season ends for Toronto.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is looking for his team to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

"Off our morning skate I feel good about it," Carlyle said. "We had some life. We have met and talked about our situation and where we are at. More than anything it's a response. We are looking for a response from our performance the other night. That's what we spoke to them about; that's what we ask of them, because we were not happy about the other night, and the only way we are going to be judged is if we come out and compete to the level we are capable of."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.05.2014 / 1:00 PM

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

Stars could regain Cole's services against Lightning

TAMPA -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff said forward Erik Cole may be back in the lineup Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We're going to give him a game-time decision," Ruff said. "He said this morning that he's feeling pretty good, so if it looks like he can go we'll play him tonight."

Cole has missed seven games with an upper-body injury, and his return would be welcome considering Stars forward Ray Whitney, who sustained a lower-body injury in the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday will be out Saturday.

"There were times when [Cole] really dominated play," Ruff said. "He has really skated well for us and physically, he's a tough guy to handle down low. It gives us back a guy that has been an important piece for us. There are times when he's been out there struggling with injuries and playing, but when he's been feeling well and going well, he's been a guy that has really pushed the other team back and gotten behind the other defense. Physically, he's a tough guy to handle."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:35 PM

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

Lightning keeping foot on gas despite clinching berth

TAMPA -- In the closing moments of the Tampa Bay Lightning's win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, defenseman Michael Kostka sustained a concussion from a hit to the head he took from defenseman Douglas Murray.

Kostka's return date to the lineup is unknown. Murray was suspended three games by the NHL on Thursday.

"We're taking it day-to-day to see how I feel," Kostka said. "Surprisingly, I don't feel as bad as I thought I would. It's never happened to me before, so I don't really have a baseline as to how I would feel after something like that.

"Murray texted me right after the game and apologized. Classy move. I don't think it was malicious, that he was trying to do that. Needless to say it was still a bad hit."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 7:21 PM

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

Okposo a late scratch for Islanders

TAMPA -- Forward Kyle Okposo, the New York Islanders' leading scorer, was a late scratch Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a lower-body injury.

Okposo appeared to be slowed by the injury during the Islanders' 5-4 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. However, coach Jack Capuano said after the morning skate that he would dress the same 12 forwards, including Okposo, that played against Carolina.

The 25-year-old leads the Islanders with 27 goals and 69 points. Both totals are career highs.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 1:00 PM

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

Lightning's Cooper sees Callahan as important piece

TAMPA -- It was an optional morning skate for both teams prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning meeting the New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday, and Lightning coach Jon Cooper was in a reflective mood as he spoke about how his first full season at the helm has changed him.

There have been exceptional ups and downs that Cooper has dealt with, the loss of forward Steven Stamkos to injury for 45 games and the deadline trade of forward Martin St. Louis among others. But the Lightning have maintained an even keel throughout.

"I'm the same person with the same beliefs," Cooper said. "I'm just more experienced now. I guess that's the difference. I'm still the same coach and I have the same feel. I don't know if I would change one thing I've done in the past -- except for maybe the last 20 shootout shooters (the Lightning have gone 0-for-15 in the shootout of late). It's just the experience: life experience and NHL experience. That's what I've really gained about this whole thing."

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