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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 9:03 PM

By Jon Lane -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Matt Carkner on comebacks, Montreal Canadiens

Comebacks have been the order of the day during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. All three games Wednesday saw teams overcome deficits to even its series at 2-2. The eight games in which the winning team has overcome a deficit of two or more goals match the total for the entire 2013 postseason.

"If you're watching the game in the first period at home and you go to put your kids to bed or something and go read them a book, and then come down for the third, there's two different games going on," Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner said Thursday while visiting the NHL offices. "The momentum swings and just the all-out intensity is pretty cool to see. I think it's great for the fans to know either team has a chance. That's the way it's going to be for a long time."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 7:29 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning defenseman Gudas out for Game 4

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas will not play Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning plan to empty tank trying to avoid sweep

MONTREAL -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping their strong play over the final two periods of Game 3 will carry over into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 pm ET; NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

The Canadiens lead the best-of-7 series 3-0 and are looking to complete the sweep. If the Lightning win, Game 5 will be Thursday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The fact they don't really have a choice but to maintain that high level of play makes it a bit easier for the Lightning to focus on the positives of their 3-2 loss on Sunday.

The main point for Lightning coach Jon Cooper was that the youth on his team experiencing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time walked into an extremely hostile environment at Bell Centre on Sunday and showed no signs of wilting under the pressure.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 1:49 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Salo practices, possibility for Game 4

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo practiced Tuesday morning and could return to the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens (7 pm ET; NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

Salo missed a 3-2 Lightning loss in Game 3 on Sunday with an upper-body injury, but he was paired with scratched defenseman Keith Aulie at the morning skate, so it's possible Salo is out for Game 4.

Otherwise, neither the Lightning nor the Canadiens are expected to make lineup changes.

The Canadiens held an optional skate Tuesday with 13 skaters and backup goalie Peter Budaj taking part.

Here are the projected lineups:

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Bishop takes shots, Cooper encouraged

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was on the ice Tuesday morning and took a few shots as he continues his recovery from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since April 8.

However, coach Jon Cooper ruled out any possibility of Bishop making a miraculous recovery to start Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

"No chance," Cooper said. "But it's encouraging to watch what's happening."

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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 6:39 PM

By James Murphy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Carle draws on '10 experience with Flyers

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle has been here before. In 2010, Carle was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and he and his teammates had just lost Game 3 to the Boston Bruins on home ice to fall behind 3-0 in the series.

The whole world seemed to have the brooms ready for Game 4, but the Flyers had other ideas. Philadelphia won Game 4 in overtime to force a Game 5 back in Boston, and the rest is history, as the Flyers won the next three, including erasing a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 at Boston to win the game and the series.

It was the third time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history a team erased a three-game series deficit.

Now, Carle and the Lightning hope to erase the Montreal Canadiens' 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series to become the fourth team to accomplish the monumental comeback. But as Carle pointed out after an optional practice Monday, they're in a bit of a different scenario than the Flyers were.

"It was a little different because [the Flyers] started on the road, so Game 4 was at home," Carle said. "I think that whole mentality going into that game was just to not get embarrassed in front of our home fans and just try to win one. We won that game in overtime and went on the road and ultimately won the series."


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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:44 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Stamkos expected to play Game 4

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Monday he is fine after sustaining an apparent upper-body injury Sunday and expects to play in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

The Canadiens hold a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series and will be going for the sweep at Bell Centre.

"I feel pretty good so, yeah, I'm expecting to play," Stamkos told the media Monday. "It was a tough game [Sunday]. I thought we battled hard, but I'll be ready for the next one."

Stamkos was able to return for the third period of Game 3 after being forced to leave at 16:09 of the second.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:53 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Palat returns for Game 3

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper made four lineup changes for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, including the return of forward Ondrej Palat.

Defensemen Sami Salo and Michael Kostka and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Richard Panik were scratched to make room for Palat, B.J. Crombeen, Tom Pyatt and Mark Barberio.

Salo took part in the morning skate Sunday, but the Lightning said he will miss the game with an upper-body injury.


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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 1:42 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Palat remains a game-time decision for Lightning

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning rookie forward Ondrej Palat skated for a second straight day Sunday but remains a game-time decision for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, SUN).

"We have a lot of guys available to play," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "There will be 20 guys come seven o'clock that are going to be ready to play. He might or might not be one of those guys. I hope he's going to be one of those guys."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 1:36 PM

By James Murphy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Canadiens look to stay composed on home ice

BROSSARD, Quebec – The Montreal Canadiens return to Bell Centre for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, SUN) looking to take advantage of playing in their home arena with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"I think we could've been better at home this season and I think it can be used as a tool for us, especially during playoff time," Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said following the morning skate Sunday. "We know it's going to be electric in there tonight and we have to use that, feed off that and create some energy and make sure we're flying off the start.

"But at the same time, we have to have a road-like mentality. We can't change the way we play because we're back on home ice. We need to use that energy and excitement or passion to play, but it has to be controlled and smart energy. We need to keep it simple and still play that north-south game."

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 7:14 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning without Palat in Game 2 against Canadiens

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper dressed defenseman Andrej Sustr to take the lineup spot of injured forward Ondrej Palat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 4:56 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Bishop faces shots, making progress

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop faced shots Friday for the first time since sustaining an elbow injury April 8, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Bishop took shots from goaltenders coach Frantz Jean before the morning skate prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Times Forum (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS, FS-F).

Goalie Anders Lindback will start again after losing Game 1 5-4.

"[Bishop is] progressing every day," Jean said. "The last three days have been extremely positive for him. The recuperation is going very well."

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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 Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 7:46 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

'Marcarena' a big hit after Canadiens' OT win

TAMPA -- The most popular video highlight of the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 overtime win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning is not the Dale Weise goal that decided it.

It is not a goal at all, nor a save, nor a big hit.

The most popular video documentation of that game, based on how viral it went on social media following the game Wednesday night, would have to be Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin celebrating his team's victory.

The move was quickly dubbed the "Marcarena" on Twitter.


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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 3:30 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Lightning's Palat game-time call; Bishop not close yet

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat will be a game-time decision for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens, coach Jon Cooper said Thursday.

Palat left the Lightning's 5-4 overtime loss in Game 1 after playing the first shift of the third period with an upper-body injury.

Game 2 of the series is set for Friday at Tampa Bay Times Forum (7 pm ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS).

"I don't know," Cooper said when asked how Palat was doing. "I guess we'll call him day-to-day, but then again aren't we all?"

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Canadiens welcome back valuable forward Prust

TAMPA -- The Montreal Canadiens will welcome forward Brandon Prust back into the lineup Wednesday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS) at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Prust missed the final 12 games of the regular season with an upper-body injury and played four of the Canadiens' 23 games since the return from the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but there was no way he would miss the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's a brand new season," Prust said. "Everything's stepped up a notch. I'm not really sure what happens, but something goes in the brain and everybody's just ramped up. It's an all-out war."

Prust's skill set is perhaps most valuable around this time of year when the level of competition gets higher. One player on the Lightning who knows very well what Prust can bring in a playoff series is Ryan Callahan, his former teammate on the New York Rangers.

"He's a great competitor," Callahan said. "I played with him for a couple of years and he's one of those guys that you don't like to play against but you love having on your team. I've got a lot of respect for the way he plays and I'm excited to go up against him."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 2:08 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Bishop skates, but Lightning rule him out for Game 1

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will begin their first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three years without their starting goaltender.

Ben Bishop skated on his own Wednesday but was ruled out for Game 1 of the Lightning's Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m.; CBC, RDS, CNBC).

When asked who his starting goaltender would be, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said simply, "Not Ben Bishop."

Though Cooper wouldn't confirm it, Anders Lindback will get his third start in four games since Bishop was lost to an upper-body injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 8. Lindback was perfect in 54 minutes of relief in that game and overall stopped 77 of 79 shots for a .975 save percentage since Bishop's injury.

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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 Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 5:44 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Lightning-Canadiens series blog

Playoff hero Briere to start on Canadiens' fourth line

When Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin signed center Daniel Briere to a two-year, $8 million free-agent contract in July, one of the first arguments he made in favor of the move was Briere's tremendous history of being a peak performer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Briere is one of the top playoff players ever, his 1.01 points per game average in the postseason ranking him 44th all-time, according to hockey-reference.com. It is a significantly higher number than his average of 0.75 points per game over his 916 career regular-season games.

If Briere knows why this is the case, he's not sharing it.

"I wish I knew," Briere said. "I wish I had a clear explanation other than wanting to be the difference-maker every night. I don't really know how to explain it."

Briere has not been one of coach Michel Therrien's most trusted players, spending time on each of the four forward lines at various points of the season, and currently slated to begin the playoffs on the Canadiens' fourth line with Michael Bournival and Dale Weise. Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning is scheduled for Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS) at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness