Lightning's Johnson, Palat among Calder Trophy finalists

Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson, left, and Ondrej Palat, right, are among three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which goes to the NHL's rookie of the year.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson, left, and Ondrej Palat, right, are among three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which goes to the NHL's rookie of the year.

Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are among three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which goes to the NHL's rookie of the year. Colorado's Nathan McKinnon is the other finalist.

The Lightning is the first team with two Calder finalists since Chicago's Patrick
Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third in 2008.

The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show June 24 in Las Vegas.
at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the
United States and CBC in Canada.

Here is a news release on the announcement:

 

JOHNSON, MacKINNON AND PALAT VOTED CALDER TROPHY FINALISTS


NEW YORK (April 23, 2014) -- Forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat
of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche
are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is
awarded "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of
competition," the National Hockey League announced today. The Lightning is
the first club to boast multiple Calder finalists since Chicago's Patrick
Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively, in 2008.
 …

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It's do or die for Lightning tonight in Game 4 against Montreal

Down three games to none, a loss will end the Lightning's season. Win and Game 5 is Thursday in Tampa.

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. …

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Video: Lightning coach Jon Cooper acting as a reporter

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.

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Video: Ryan Callahan's disallowed Game 3 goal

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.

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Video: Tom Jones previews Lightning-Canadiens Game 4

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.

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.

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Cooper on Game 2 vs. the Canadiens: 'This is one we need'

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.

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. …

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Killorn and Barberio thrilled to face hometown Canadiens

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.

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. …

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VIDEO: Tom Jones previews Lightning-Canadiens

Times sports columnist Tom Jones previews the first-round playoff matchup between the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens in this video feature.

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Palat, Filppula return to practice

Ondrej Palat, who has a team-best 59 points, sustained an upper-body injury Friday against Columbus.

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.

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Anders Lindback is NHL's first star of the week

Anders Lindback was 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage and a shutout this past week.

AP photo

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: …

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Lightning-Canadiens playoff schedule (updated with TV)

Lightning forward Alex Killorn tries to get a puck past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

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 necessary

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Jon Cooper's novel approach to home-ice advantage

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."

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Ryan Malone arrested on DUI, cocaine charges

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. …

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Gudas in right place at right time

Adam Hall's backhand shot hits Radko Gudas in the chest, preserving Tampa Bay's 3-1 lead.

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."

 

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Vinny Lecavalier's second trip to Tampa is special, 'but not like the first time'

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.

AP photo

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." …

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