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Conference Final

Lightning could make lineup changes for Game 3 against Capitals

Playing seven defensemen one option down 2-0 in best-of-7 conference final

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are contemplating lineup changes for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The Lightning have been outscored 7-1 at even strength and are down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series. 


[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage]


Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday their issues include failing to stay within their structure and a lack of execution when they have been in position to make plays.

And he said those problems run through all four forward lines.

"You need everybody, and you just can't depend on a couple guys to do all the work for you," Cooper said. "The problem is right now we're not getting any production other than from our power play, and it's probably very reminiscent of what we did to [the] Boston [Bruins] (in the second round), and then you've got the power play scoring, not much 5-on-5. That's happening to us now against Washington. That's just not a one-line thing, that's a four-line thing, and that's what we've got to get better at."

If changes are made, forward Adam Erne could play if healthy. Erne, who had four points (three goals, one assist) in 23 regular-season games, has not played during the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a lower-body injury. It's possible Erne replaces forward Cedric Paquette, who missed practice twice last week for a maintenance day.

Video: NYR@TBL: Erne beats Lundqvist from the slot

Forward Cory Conacher, who played in Games 3 and 4 of the first round against the New Jersey Devils, is another option.

"If [Erne's] ready to go, we have to make some decisions in regard to that," Cooper said. "But as I said, I'm not judging our playoffs in 48 hours."

The Lightning also could go with seven defensemen and add Andrej Sustr or Slater Koekkoek to the lineup. Neither has appeared in a game during the postseason or played much during the final weeks of the regular season. Sustr has been in the lineup six times since March 1, and Koekkoek has played three times during that span.

They do, however, have playoff experience. Sustr has five points (two goals, three assists) in 46 career postseason games. Koekkoek has one assist in 10 playoff games. 

Whoever plays, Cooper remains confident the Lightning can rebound in Game 3. 

"They've got 113 points (in the regular season) for a reason," Cooper said. "There's a really good group of guys there. They've got a ton of experience, and when their backs have been against the wall, they've shown a propensity to fight back. This is a tough one. We lost two at home and it's definitely not an ideal situation. But we're not done. It's not over."


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