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Erik Condra pumped to play near hometown, Red Wings make changes

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Erik Condra shoots and scores beating Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard for the first goal of the game during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 22.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Erik Condra shoots and scores beating Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard for the first goal of the game during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 22.

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April

Lightning wing Erik Condra would be excited enough just to be playing in Sunday's Game 3 against the Red Wings, considering he was a healthy scratch in the first two.

But the fact Condra is from the Detroit area makes this one even more special - and expensive - considering the amount of ticket requests from family and friends.

"Have to be paying to play tonight, that's for sure," Condra said, smiling.

Condra gets an opportunity because of J.T. Brown's upper body injury, suffered Friday, which will keep him out the rest of the series. Coach Jon Cooper shuffled the bottom-six, moving Vladislav Namestnikov up to the line with Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan, inserting Condra back with Brian Boyle and Mike Blunden, a trio that clicked late in the season.

"I like the mix of Condra, Blundy and Boyle, they played together beore, they've been really effective," Cooper said. "It should be a seamless transition. Plus Erik is from Detroit, his ticket count went up quite a bit."

After a slow start to his first season in Tampa Bay, Condra felt he was playing his best hockey near the end, three of his six goals coming in his final nine games.

"I'm excited," he said. "I've been in the playoffs before, but to be home for the playoffs, I'm really pumped up. I'll be a little amped. But I definitely hope to rein it in a little bit and unleash it when it's time."

More from this morning: The Red Wings, down 2-0 in the series, are making some significant changes to their lineup, starting in goal, with Petr Mrazek starting over Jimmy Howard, who lost the first two games. Howard said he found out on the plane on the way back from Tampa.

Mrazek was strong against the Lightning in the seven-game series last year, and moves the puck better, which could help against Tampa Bay's forecheck. The Red Wings are also splitting up Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, with Brendan Smith adding some muscle up front.

"Whatever they throw at us, we have to adapt to it," Cooper said. Congratulations to Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov, whose wife gave birth to a baby boy Wednesday after Game 1, Mikhail. Nesterov flew up separately Saturday night after his wife and child were released from the hospital.

 

 

[Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2016 2:39pm]

    

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