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The Lightning Insider - Game Day

by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning

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Last night’s shootout win in Florida was certainly enjoyable for Lightning fans, as is a two-game win streak sandwiched around Christmas. Now the Bolts just need to do it again tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum against an aggravated Panthers team.

Once the shootout win was secured last night I started out feeling aggravated about the fact the Lightning got into penalty trouble in the third period which resulted in a blown two-goal lead. However, after thinking it over a bit I came to the conclusion that it was better to win it in the shootout because the entire team needed a boost of confidence in the one-on-one competition. Lightning Coach Rick Tocchet said it was a needed boost.

“It was a nice confidence builder,” he said. “I think we’d gone 11 or 12 shots without a goal.”

Tocchet changed things up and it paid dividends. Instead of the usual suspects in the shootout, Tocchet went with Adam Hall, Evgeny Artyukhin, Jussi Jokinen and Ryan Malone. Hall had earned the chance to be the first shooter by winning a practice shootout contest in Pittsburgh earlier this week.

“Wes Walz said ‘You don't have the [guts] to put him in the shootout,’” Tocchet said. “I said ‘Watch; he's going number one.’”

The gamble worked, with Hall, Jokinen and Malone all scoring to secure the win, though Tocchet said you can expect regular shooters Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis to get back in the rotation down the road. Artyukhin earned his chance by having a monster game, laying out several Panthers with big hits, scoring a crucial goal and fighting twice.

“Arty was a difference maker,” Tocchet said. “If he can play like that consistently he'll be a hell of a hockey player in the NHL.”

The lineup for tonight will mostly be the same, though defenseman Matt Smaby has been recalled on an emergency basis in case Lukas Krajicek (upper body, day to day) can’t go. Ryan Craig will likely be a healthy scratch, with Olaf Kolzig, Gary Roberts and David Koci still injured.

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