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Pregame Notebook: Bolts look for better performance vs. Flames

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

The last time the Tampa Bay played Calgary, the Lightning registered just 22 shots on goal, their second lowest output of the season.

Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said the number of scoring chances was far less.

“We were just reviewing the tape, and when we looked back at the scoring chances, we’ve had games where we had 20-plus scoring chances in a game, not shots like actual, legitimate scoring chances. And I think we had seven and we were reaching for them against Calgary.”

Despite the lack of offense, the Lightning stolel a 2-1 overtime victory in Calgary. Valtteri Filppula drew the Bolts even late after scoring with just under three minutes to go, and Ondrej Palat capped the comeback with the game winner in the extra period.

Both teams are riding three-game winning streaks entering tonight’s matchup, the final one between the two squads in the regular season.

“They’re playing well. They’ve got a lot of young talent on that team, and they’re well coached,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of Calgary. “They stay true to the system, and they don’t give you much. We went in there last time and squeaked out an overtime victory where I thought we didn’t play our best game but we found a way to win. Shots were in the low 20s. We have to get some more pucks on net.”

Last season, Calgary upended the Lightning 4-1 at Amalie Arena (April 3).

“They’re probably as well structured as I’ve seen in a team,” Cooper said. “I’m sure if you open up a program, a ton of their names don’t jump off the page at you, but as a collective group, they’re really good. It’s a pretty impressive team. I know what they did to us last year in this building. If we think we’re going to throw our sticks in the middle and say, ‘OK, we’ve won a couple games on home ice,’ they’ll run us out of here. They’re good.”

The Lightning conclude a four-game home stand against Calgary and will look for win No. 4 after beating Arizona, Philadelphia and Washington last week. Tampa Bay had its longest rest of the season so far with four days off between the Caps and Flames games.

“I think after the Washington game, we might have played the most games in the league at the time,” Cooper said. “We’ve got a lot of guys hurt, so the more time we can mend, the better for us.”

HEDMAN HEALS

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, wearing a split around his right index finger, said he’s been skating the past two days and will see the doctor next week to get a better idea of when he’ll be able to return to the ice.

Hedman has been out of action since fracturing his finger in Vancouver on October 11. The initial prognosis indicated Hedman would miss four to six weeks. This Saturday will be week three of Hedman’s rehab.

“I’ve been skating just to kind of get the feeling back,” he said. “It’s obviously good to be out there, and being on the ice is always fun. It’s different doing conditioning off the ice than on the ice obviously, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Cooper suggested Hedman probably wouldn’t return to the team until early December, saying: “He’s still got a few weeks.”

Despite losing its best defenseman and potential Norris Trophy candidate, the Lightning have played well in Hedman’s absence, going 5-2-0 since Vancouver.

“A winning team is always fun to be around, and obviously for me not playing, I’m way more nervous watching the games from the sidelines,” Hedman said. “The team has been playing great. Everybody’s been stepping up. It’s been different guys every night it feels like. It’s a lot of fun to watch the team win, and, obviously, that makes it a little bit easier to be on the sideline.”

KILLORN RETURNS

Alex Killorn, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, made his first appearance at Lightning practice since exiting the game against Washington on Saturday.

Killorn wore a red, no-contact jersey and was limited in his actions. He won’t play tonight against Calgary.

“Today felt better than yesterday, and if tomorrow feels a lot better than today, then we can go from there,” he said.

Cooper expects Killorn to play at some point on Tampa Bay’s upcoming road trip. The Lightning travel to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets on Saturday before visiting Detroit (Sun.) and Chicago (Tues.).

For Killorn, sitting out is an unusual feeling. The 2007 third round draft pick played in every game last season for the Lightning, including the playoffs. 

“I haven’t missed a game since going pro, and college, I don’t think I missed a game,” he said. “So I can’t remember the last game I missed. It’s really frustrating, especially when you’re getting over an injury and then you get injured again on a stupid play. It’s really frustrating. At least it’s not too bad, it’s day-to-day, so I’m optimistic in that sense.”

Killorn was forced to sit four games and most of the Bolts’ Western Canada/Minnesota road trip after crashing hard into the boards during pre-game skate in Edmonton.

“It’s just a weird year for him, and nothing, I would say, unconventional injuries I guess,” Cooper said. “He should be back soon, though.”

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