Niittymaki to make second straight start
Backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki has played his way into a second straight start, as he'll be in net for Monday's game against the Panthers, coach Rick Tocchet said Sunday.
Tocchet said that starter Mike Smith is "healthy," and is not sitting out because of any lingering effects from his Thursday collision with the Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner. Tocchet merely said Niittymaki played well in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Hurricanes, and they're going with him again.
Smith made a quick exit after Sunday's practice and was unavailable for comment. Smith had said Saturday he could have played against the Devils and been fine, and expected to return Monday.
Niittymaki said he's excited to get back out there after making 24 saves in his Lightning debut.
"Obviously, it's nice to get back-to-back starts," Niittymaki said. "It's better than waiting two, three, four games, then go back in there. But I guess it tells you, if you play well, you're able to get minutes and get more starts. I think that's pretty fair."
When asked if Smith would return in goal when the Lightning starts their upcoming road trip, Tocchet said, "Smitty is going to play a lot, but Nitty is going tommorrow."
Other notes from Sunday's skate
*Tocchet said D Kurtis Foster could be available to play Monday, but they haven't decided on their lineup yet. D David Hale returned to practice after missing Saturday due to the flu.
-- JOE SMITH