DIRK SHADD | Times
Down three games to none, a loss will end the Lightning's season. Win and Game 5 is Thursday in Tampa.
The Lightning goes into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal tonight against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, actually feeling pretty good about where the team's game is headed.
"The guys are learning. The guys are finding what playoff hockey is all about and we're getting better," coach Jon Cooper said. "But we're running out of time."
Down three games to none, Tampa Bay actually has no time because a loss will end its season. Win and Game 5 is Thursday in Tampa.
The Lightning did not like at all the way it played in the series' first two games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and even in the first period Sunday in Montreal. It was weak on the blue line, had trouble getting through the Canadiens' neutral zone defense and mounted little sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Part of that is the Canadiens. As Cooper said, "Montreal is doing a a hell of a job against us. Tip your hat to them a little bit."
But despite the 3-2 loss in Game 3, the Lightning had the better of the play in the second and third periods. …Full Story
Lightning coach Jon Cooper (holding the water bottle as a faux microphone) sneaked into a media scrum with Steven Stamkos on Monday and then addressed reporters about being a reporter. Full Story
Here is the controversial play that led to Ryan Callahan's disallowed goal in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal between the Lightning and Canadiens. The call, with 4:22 left in the second period, took away Tampa Bay's 2-1 lead. Montreal ultimately won the game 3-2 to take a three games to none lead in the series. Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Defenseman Matt Carle celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period of Game 3, along with teammates Steven Stamkos, center Tyler Johnson and left wing Ondrej Palat.
Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at the Lightning's 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday and previews Tuesday's Game 4 in this video report.Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
If Ondrej Palat (upper body injury), center, cannot go, expect Alex Killorn to take Palat's place on a line with Steven Stamkos, left, and Tyler Johnson, right.
Toward the end of Friday's pregame meeting with reporters, someone asked Lightning coach Jon Cooper if tonight's Game 2 against the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals was a must win.
"I don't know if it's must win," Cooper said. "If this was Game 4 and we were down three, I would call that a must win. But this is one we need."
Tampa Bay is down one game to none in the best-of-seven series. It already has lost home ice. To go down 2-0 to Montreal headed to the Bell Centre would be a tough hole out of which to climb.
It sounds as if rookie left wing Ondrej Palat will not be in the lineup. Cooper didn't rule him out completely (he is a game-time decision), but said the rookie, who led the team with 59 regular-season points is likely out with what is characterized as an upper-body injury.
Palat left Game 1 early in the third period after a knee-to-knee hit with Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. But with the team saying the injury is to Palat's upper body, some wondered if it had anything to do with a hard check Palat took April 11 from Columbus' Jack Johnson. That hit included contact with Palat's head and kept him out of Sunday's regular-season finale at Washington. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times (2013)
Alex Killorn said he'd go to a few Canadiens games a season as a kid, and almost always wore the jersey of his favorite player, Saku Koivu, while skating in a nearby park.
For Lightning C Alex Killorn and D Mark Barberio, who grew up in bordering neighborhoods in Montreal's west island, facing the Canadiens in the playoffs is extra special.
"It's really exciting," Killorn said. "A lot of friends and family are going to be watching. I'm not sure how many of them will be rooting for me."
Quipped Barberio: "I've got some family that still won't change."
Killorn said he'd go to a few Canadiens games a season as a kid, and almost always wore the jersey of his favorite player, Saku Koivu, while skating in a nearby park. Barberio said he watched "pretty much every game" on TV with his dad, and feels fortunate he could be on the same ice with his role model, Canadiens D Andrei Markov.
Both say traveling to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 will be a huge thrill, considering what the town is like during playoff-time.
"In Montreal, the Canadiens are the biggest thing there," Barberio said. "Hockey is like a religion."
Said Killorn: "Crazy, crazy atmosphere. The whole town stops."
The two are prepared for desperate ticket requests, knowing they won't all be supporters. …Full Story
Times sports columnist Tom Jones previews the first-round playoff matchup between the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens in this video feature.Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Ondrej Palat, who has a team-best 59 points, sustained an upper-body injury Friday against Columbus.
The Lightning got some good news on the injury front Tuesday, as two of its top scorers, LW Ondrej Palat and C Valteri Filppula, returned to practice.
Filppula (lower body), tied with Steven Stamkos for a team-best 25 goals, was hurt Thursday against the Flyers and hasn't played the last two games. Palat (upper body), with a team-best 59 points, was hurt Friday against Columbus.
While we won't an official update from coach Jon Cooper for another hour, the fact both players were at practice is a good sign they may be able to play for Wednesday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Canadiens.
The only two players not on the ice were goalie Ben Bishop (upper body) and Ryan Malone, who was arrested on Saturday.
The Lightning says there are still "a few" tickets remaining for Wednesday's Game 1, and more for Game 2 Friday.Full Story
Anders Lindback was 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage and a shutout this past week.
Anders Lindback is the NHL's first star of the week ending Sunday. The Lightning goaltender was 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage and a shutout.
Here is the announcement from the league: …Full Story
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Lightning forward Alex Killorn tries to get a puck past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
Here is the schedule for the Lightning and Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs:
April 16: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Sun Sports, CNBC
April 18: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Florida, CNBC
April 20: at Montreal, 7 p.m., Sun Sports, NBC Sports Network
April 22: at Montreal, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Florida, NHL Network
*April 24: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Sun Sports
*April 27: at Montreal, Sun Sports
*April 29: at Tampa, Fox Sports Florida
*-if necessaryFull Story
The Lightning's season finale Sunday at Washington will determine whether Tampa Bay gets home-ice advantage in its first-round playoff series with the Canadiens.
For Lightning coach Jon Cooper, home ice is most important when it comes to hosting a Game 7.
But what if the team with the advantage was forced to play on the road in Game 7? That is what Cooper suggested in a novel approach to how a seven-game playoff series should be structured.
In Cooper's plan, the team with home ice -- that is with four of seven games on its ice -- would play Game 1 on the road, play Games 2, 3 and 4 at home, Game 5 on the road, Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road.
In other words, the team with home ice would play four of the first six games at home.
"Now that's home ice to me," Cooper said. "I haven't done the research but I'm fairly certain more series are ended in Games 4, 5 and 6 than Game 7, so why would the home ice be in just the last game?"
As for perhaps giving the team without home ice the advantage of hosting a Game 7, Cooper said, "If they've scratched out to a seventh game under those odds, they should get home ice. Food for thought."Full Story
Lightning left wing Ryan Malone was arrested Saturday morning on charges of driving under the influence and cocaine possession.
"We are aware of the situation concerning Ryan Malone this morning," general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. "Ryan will not travel with the team to Washington today, but beyond that we cannot comment further at this time."
Malone, 34, was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Suburban at 3:19 a.m. when he made a left turn on to W Platt Street from the center lane of S Armenia Avenue, Tampa Police said.
Malone then struck a curb at S Howard Avenue and W Platt Street, police said.
A patrol officer conducted a traffic stop and noted an odor of alcoholic beverages on Malone's breath, police said. Malone refused to take a field sobriety test and was arrested for driving under the influence.
A search after his arrest revealed 1.3 grams of cocaine in Malone's right back pocket, police said.
Malone submitted to a breath test at booking. His results showed a blood alcohol content of .112 and .116, police said.
Malone was charged with DUI and possession of cocaine. His Suburban was impounded, police said. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Adam Hall's backhand shot hits Radko Gudas in the chest, preserving Tampa Bay's 3-1 lead.
With G Anders Lindback down and out of position with 8:43 left in the third period of Thursday's 4-2 win against the Flyers, D Radko Gudas figured his place was on the goal line.
Good thing. Adam Hall's backhand hit him in the chest, preserving Tampa Bay's 3-1 lead.
" 'Lindy' made the first save and kind of fell, so I just stood behind him to see what's going to happen," Gudas said. "Lucky (the puck) hit me."
Lindback gave Gudas a couple of pats on the back in thanks.
"It was a huge lift, and Lindy was the first guy to tap 'Gudy' and say thanks," Cooper said. "But we were the first to tap Lindy for his performance."
Vinny Lecavalier comes to Tampa on a bit of a hot streak with two goals, four points in his past two games and six goals, 11 points in his past 14.
Back in November, the first time former Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, he said he pretty much was counting the days until the game. But about tonight's game at the Times Forum, the Flyers center said a lot of the emotions have died down.
"I wouldn't say it's business as usual, but it's not like the first time," he said. "But it's still special to be here."
Lecavalier, who in June was bought out of his Lightning contract and then signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Flyers, comes to Tampa on a bit of a hot streak with two goals, four points in his past two games and six goals, 11 points in his past 14.
Much of that has to do with his return to center after spending a miserable 35 games -- Lecavalier knew the exact number -- at left wing.
"That's definitely something that got me skating more," Lecavalier said of playing in the middle. "Playing left wing was a tough adjustment. I like being on the right side. I like being in the middle. It's a lot more natural for me, a lot more skating. I just feel better there as a player." …Full Story
Ben Bishop will sit out the final three games of the regular season, and the Lightning goaltender's availability for the first round of the playoffs is uncertain.
Though coach Jon Cooper did not rule out Bishop playing in the first round, which is expected to be against the Canadiens, he did not offer a timetable either.
"No, I wouldn't rule him out," Cooper said Wednesday. "I'm not sitting here saying he will (play) but I'm not saying he won't. I guess in saying that, it's not impossible that he would be playing in the first round at some point."
Bishop, who was hurt in the first period of Tuesday's 3-0 victory over the Maple Leafs, fell awkwardly on his left wrist/arm after he extended to catch a floating puck. He skated off the ice, in obvious pain and with help, and had an MRI exam this morning.
Cooper said "as far as I know" the MRI did not show any structural damage.
In that sense, he called the news "encouraging," but he added, "It's discouraging because when you sit back and reflect on what happened and how it happened, and then you watch replays of how it happened, you expect him to pop right up after that." …Full Story