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Lightning keeping foot on gas despite clinching berth

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- In the closing moments of the Tampa Bay Lightning's win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, defenseman Michael Kostka sustained a concussion from a hit to the head he took from defenseman Douglas Murray.

Kostka's return date to the lineup is unknown. Murray was suspended three games by the NHL on Thursday.

"We're taking it day-to-day to see how I feel," Kostka said. "Surprisingly, I don't feel as bad as I thought I would. It's never happened to me before, so I don't really have a baseline as to how I would feel after something like that.

"Murray texted me right after the game and apologized. Classy move. I don't think it was malicious, that he was trying to do that. Needless to say it was still a bad hit."

After clinching a position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lightning coach Jon Cooper does not intend to allow his team to ease up when it hosts the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

"Our goal was to make the playoffs, now let's see if we can get home ice," Cooper said. "You just can't sit here and say, 'Well, we made the playoffs, now we have to rest guys.' That's not our mentality at all. We're going in and we want to beat Calgary. We don't care who we are playing, we need our guys to be in a playoff mindset going down the stretch here. That was our message. We have to play it out and it starts tonight."

Although the circumstances are different, Calgary coach Bob Hartley won't let his team play out the string.

"Every game down the road right to our last game in Vancouver, we are playing to win," Hartley said.

Calgary will be skating without forward Matt Stajan, who returned to Calgary for prearranged personal reasons, and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon, who sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Defensemen Chris Breen and Mike Cundari were summoned from the minors as replacements.

Here are the projected lineups for the Flames and Lightning:


Mike CammalleriMikael BacklundJiri Hudler

Curtis GlencrossSean MonahanJoe Colborne

Bryce Van BrabantTJ GaliardiBrian McGrattan

Ben HanowskiLance BoumaKevin Westgarth

Mark GiordanoTJ Brodie

Kris RussellChris Butler

Chad BillinsChristopher Breen

Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Matt Stajan, Paul Byron, Mark Cundari, Kenny Agostino

Injured: Tyler Wotherspoon (shoulder)


J.T. Brown - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell

Ondrej Palat - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Ryan Malone - Nate ThompsonB.J. Crombeen

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer - Mark Barberio

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Tom Pyatt, Cody Kunyk, Richard Panik

Injured: Michael Kostka (concussion)

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