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Lightning look to keep up momentum against Hurricanes

Tampa Bay seeks its fourth win in five games tonight at AMALIE Arena

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning played one of their finest periods of the season when they scored four goals, three on the power play, in the second period of Monday's 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

That win was the Bolts' third in their last four games. They'll try to continue their climb in the Eastern Conference standings tonight when they host the Carolina Hurricanes, a team five points behind the Lightning in the chase.

"We had Vasy there to kind of close the door on them when we were leaking oil (in the first period)," Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said of his team's play against Ottawa.

"I liked our response. I liked our second and third period. We kind of settled down a little bit. And it was nice to see our special teams take over. But it's one game and we've got to keep doing this. Another test tonight in Carolina, a team we've got to keep behind us if we want to keep climbing. A good start's important."

Cooper was particularly pleased with his team's final period against Ottawa. The Bolts didn't sit on their three-goal lead and continued to press, eventually netting a fifth goal with about nine minutes remaining to close any door on a potential Ottawa comeback.

"The big thing was, we got to the third period and we didn't give anything up," Cooper said. "We shut the door again. I know it was a 4-1 lead, but we extended that lead. We didn't give anything up and I really liked that. But it's one game and that game's well in our rear mirror, and now we got to look ahead at Carolina."

Video: Cooper on matchup with CAR

MCKEGG SIGHTING: Greg McKegg was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay from the Florida Panthers on Monday. McKegg wasn't in Tampa in time for the game later that night against the Senators, but he joined his new Lightning teammates for Wednesday's morning skate.

"I was real excited," McKegg said when asked what his thoughts were when he learned he had been claimed by the Lightning. "Coming over here, obviously they have a great team and a lot of skill. It's good to get over here and start skating."

McKegg has a previous connection on the Lightning: He played with Vladislav Namestnikov when both were members of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2011-12 season.

"It's nice to have a familiar face for sure," McKegg said.

In 31 games this season with the Panthers, McKegg contributed three goals and three assists. The 24-year-old center was originally drafted in the third round, 62nd overall, by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Draft.

"He brings energy," Cooper said. "He works hard. All reports are he's a fantastic guy in the locker room. He's a part of our team. We're excited."

Video: Johnson on Bolts staying focused

NEW-LOOK LOCKER ROOM: Lightning players were still coming to terms with the trades of goaltender Ben Bishop and forward Brian Boyle on Wednesday.

The team understands the NHL is a business. Still, it doesn't make the loss of two of the more popular guys in the locker room any easier to swallow.

"It's tough. It's really tough," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "They're two very close friends of me and great players and ambassadors for the organization. It sucks. I'd be lying if it wasn't affecting guys, but come game time, you've got to push that aside. You miss two great guys and good friends, not only on the ice but off the ice as well.

"It's tough but we've got to stay together through this. It's not very often you can stay with the same team for three years like we've had. We knew this was a possibility, but when it becomes reality, it sucks."

Bishop and Boyle were also two of the team's biggest voices in the room, and Bolts center Tyler Johnson said it will be up to the group as a whole to replace their leadership.

"We lost some big guys, but at the same time, we like to think that we lead by committee and everyone steps up," Johnson said. "Everyone talks. We don't have one or two guys that just say the same things in the room. It's everybody. It's tough losing those guys, but everyone else has to do a little bit more."

Video: Dotchin on importance of a good start

ICE CHIPS: Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first goaltender off the ice from Wednesday's morning skate, signaling he'll likely get the start again tonight when the Bolts host the 'Canes. … McKegg and Steven Stamkos joined the Lightning for morning skate but didn't take line rushes with the team. … Adam Erne appears to be first man up to replace Brian Boyle. Erne took Boyle's spot on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Vladislav Namestnikov during Monday's game and again Wednesday for morning skate. "I thought he was a good complement to Val and Vladdy and he had a couple great scoring chances that just on the way he forechecked and created space for himself and got in there and got after it," Cooper said. "I'd love to see him put one of those in, but he keeps hustling like that, they're definitely going to go in for him."…Victor Hedman needs just six points to tie Freddy Modin for seventh place all-time among Lightning scoring leaders. Modin finished his Lightning career with 286 points; Hedman is currently at 280 points. … Jason Garrison will play in his 200th game with the Bolts tonight provided he's in the lineup as expected.

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