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It remained a relaxed Lightning locker room this morning as the team held an optional skate in preparation for tonight’s rematch against the Panthers. Everyone believes they deserved a win on Monday night in Sunrise and that a similar performance tonight will result in a victory.
Mathieu Darche is expected to be back in the lineup and it looks like Craig MacDonald will get the night off. Johan Holmqvist will be in net, and Matt Smaby will sit out on defense (Filip Kuba was back on the ice after missing practice due to illness yesterday). Lightning head coach John Tortorella praised Doug Janik’s performance Monday night, and said Janik deserves to play again tonight.
“Dougie Janik played good the other night,” Tortorella said. “I thought he was trying to make a difference, so he’s going to play tonight.”
The Panthers will be without defenseman Bryan Allen, who was dropped and appeared to be unconscious on the ice after a Nick Tarnasky punch Monday night. The Panthers have reported Allen missed the trip due to “facial injuries.”
When asked about the Lightning’s aggressiveness this morning, Tortorella took the opportunity to bring up Tarnasky’s hit on Mike Van Ryn that resulted in a major penalty for boarding. Tortorella made it clear that while Vaclav Prospal’s first-period boarding major was “a dangerous play and a penalty,” he felt Tarnasky’s hit in the third period was clean.
“I was told after the play that it was a vicious hit from behind,” he said. “That’s a real big point of contention for me.”
Michel Ouellet was one of the Lightning’s best players Monday night, scoring the goal that evened the score at 3-3 in the third period. His overall play caught the coach’s eye.
“He’s been physical, he’s been on pucks the last few games,” Tortorella said of Ouellet. “As far as his determination, he’s one of our top players as far as getting on pucks. He’s just got a great shot. His release is his strength, and getting into areas to get his shot off.”