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Mikkelson, Labrie return to Lightning after conditioning assignments

It is believed Pierre-Cedric Labrie, a scratch tonight, will see the ice Saturday at Boston.

DIRK SHADD | Times

It is believed Pierre-Cedric Labrie, a scratch tonight, will see the ice Saturday at Boston.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Brendan Mikkelson and right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie downplayed the effect they had for AHL Syracuse during their two-week conditioning assignments. That said, the Crunch won all seven games in which they played.

“That’s a pretty good team down there,” Mikkelson said. “They’re a close group of guys. That wins them a few games. (Coach Jon Cooper) does a great job of creating that team-like environment that is so positive. That was good.”

Mikkelson and Labrie are back with Tampa Bay as they would have had to clear waivers to remain with Syracuse beyond the two weeks of the assignment. With Sami Salo out because of a lower-body injury, Mikelson will play tonight against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It is believed Labrie, a scratch tonight, will see the ice Saturday at Boston.

Neither had been playing much with Tampa Bay. Mikkelson was in two games and had an assist before he was sent down. Labrie was in three games. Both flourished with Syracuse. Mikkelson had an assist and was plus-4 in seven games. Labrie had three goals and five points.     …

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Friday: Chat live with the Times' Tom Jones

Want to talk about the Lightning's recent struggles? Rays spring training? The Bucs' offseason? College basketball? Sports on TV/radio? Join Times sports writer Tom Jones for a live chat Friday, March 1, from noon to 1 p.m.

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Video: Steven Stamkos on Lightning's loss to Sabres

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos talks about Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.


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Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ryan Malone close to returning from injury

Ryan Malone has missed eight games with an undisclosed lower body injury.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ryan Malone has missed eight games with an undisclosed lower body injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone, who has missed eight games with an undisclosed lower body injury, worked out with the team at Tuesday’s morning skate, and coach Guy Boucher said Malone could be back in the lineup “soon.”Full Story

Stamkos named NHL's 'Second Star' of the week

From the league ... …

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Boucher says tonight's game with Penguins "our biggest test yet"

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Video: Lightning rookie Richard Panik on first NHL goal

Tampa Bay Lightning rookie wing Richard Panik discusses his first career NHL goal, scored in highlight-reel fashion during Saturday's 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

Here's the replay on how Panik completed the feat

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Lightning assistant Steve Thomas excited to see son's NHL debut

Lightning assistant Steve Thomas was in hustle mode Saturday afternoon, but he had a special reason.
Thomas left the team in a rush, and will miss tonight’s game against the Hurricanes in order to make it to Montreal to see his son, Christian, 20, make his NHL debut with the Rangers.
Thomas, who played 20 years in the NHL, jumped in a cab after Tampa Bay’s morning skate Saturday, with a connection through Newark scheduled to land just before faceoff.
“It’s a little bit surreal,” Thomas said. “We had him on skates since he was three years old, and he’s always loved the game, he’s always watched hockey, he watched me when I was playing, and was around NHL dressing rooms. It’s always been his dream to be an NHL player since he was three until now. He’s 20, it’s been a long time, a lot of hard work, and he finally got his chance. Now it’s just a matter of doing the best with what you got.”
Christian, a 5-foot-9 right wing, is one of the Rangers top prospects, their second round pick in 2010. With star Rick Nash going on injured reserve, coaches in AHL Connecticut told all their players to pack a passport just in case. And Christian found out the news Friday afternoon.
“He’s nervous,” Thomas said, smiling. “And I don’t know who is more nervous, me or him.” …

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Video: Teddy Purcell says Lightning's 4-2 loss to Bruins a "measuring stick"

Tampa Bay Lightning wing Teddy Purcell said the 4-2 loss to the Bruins Thursday night served as a "measuring stick" against one of the top teams in the conference.

 

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Lightning C Steven Stamkos on superstitions, shootouts and facing the Maple Leafs

Who knew Steve Stamkos was so superstitious?
 
Actually, the better question is why wouldn’t he be? “Anyone player who tells you they’re not superstitious is probably lying,” he said.
 
Asked to give some examples of his superstitions, Stamkos mentioned:
 
* Putting the left side of his equipment on first, including his skates.
 
* If he is going well, using the same stick wax, taping his stick the same way, eating at the same restaurant for pregame meals.
 
* If he is going well, not using his stick during practices, saving it for the games.
 
“Little things like that I’m sure fans get a chuckle from,” he said.
 
Other interesting stuff from Stamkos included playing against the team, the Maple Leafs, for which he grew up cheering.
 
“I definitely hear a lot more from friends and family when we play Toronto,” said Stamkos, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Unionville, Ontario. “I think my first few years in the league it was pretty cool to play against them. Now, I played against them so much it’s like playing another game. But it definitely is always special to play the team you grew up cheering for as a kid.”
 
Stamkos also said he does not study video of opposing goalies.
 
“Hockey is a game of reaction, and each different scenario on the ice is going to be different,” he said. “You’re definitely aware if a goalie has tendencies, but it’s about reading the play and reacting to where the goalie is. I just try to read the play.”
 
On shootouts, on which he is 5-for-26 in his career, he said, “I wouldn’t say it’s something I key on. It’s a big part of the game and something I’d probably love to be better at. Maybe I should practice it a little more.”
 
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Anders Lindback gets the start in net for Tampa Bay. He is expected to face Ben Scrivens who has back-to-back 3-0 shutouts and is 4-3-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. … Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron gets a second straight game. Stamkos said he knows his answer was cliché, but Tampa Bay needs to gets as much traffic and as many shots as possible on Scrivens. “He can’ts top every puck.” … Coach Guy Boucher said he will decide after warm-ups if he will go with six or seven defensemen. … Defenseman Brian Lee is minus-9. Only four NHL players are worse. But Boucher said the stat is misleading. “In his case when we looked at the video, most of those minuses didn’t originate from him making a big boo-boo. It was more of a team thing. He couldn’t do much about it.” … Former Lightning center Tim Taylor will be honored at tonight’s game as part of the team’s 20th anniversary celebration. “If you can be here you owe it to the fans,” said Taylor, who works for the Blues as director of player development. Taylor said he would have loved for the Lightning to get a chance to defend the Stanley Cup with the same group that won it in 2004. But the 2004-05 lockout meant a different lineup, particularly in net as Nikolai Khabibulin went to the Blackhawks. “I wouldn’t say cheated, but do I feel like we missed an opportunity? Yeah.”

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Video: Lightning rookie Alex Killorn talks about his first NHL goal

Lightning rookie Alex Killorn talks about his first NHL goal after a 6-5 overtime victory over the Panthers on Feb. 16.


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Stamkos to wear cut-resistant Kevlar socks in wake of Karlsson injury

After watching the season of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson come to an end when his Achilles tendon was sliced Wednesday by a skate blade, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos decided to start wearing cut-resistant Kevlar socks.

The socks, which are not mandatory in the NHL, are believed by many players to be heavy, hot and bulky. But after watching the video of Karlsson’s injury (he was stepped on -- accidentally, most believe -- by Penguins pest Matt Cooke), “You start to think,” Stamkos said. “Who knows in that particular instance if it would have stopped it completely but maybe a little bit. Everything kind of counts toward that, I guess.”

With that, Stamkos took a pair of socks off his locker room seat and tried to cut them with a scissor. The socks crimped but didn’t tear.

“Better than nothing,” he said. “On a force like Cooke’s skate maybe you still get cut there but it’s not as bad.”

In other news: Goaltender Anders Lindback, who could not make Thursday's start against the Capitals because of a flu bug, practiced Friday. Coach Guy Boucher said if Lindback says he is able, he will start Saturday at Florida.

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Lightning trades Dustin Tokarski to Canadiens for Cedrick Desjardins

The Lightning on Thursday traded one minor league goaltender for another as it shipped Dustin Tokarski to the Canadiens for Cedrick Desjardins, and Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman was clear he believed the Lightning made at least a short-term upgrade at AHL Syracuse.

"We felt in the event we needed to recall a goalie due to injury (to either Anders Lindback or Mathieu Garon), we weren’t comfortable with our options right now,” Yzerman said. “And with Cedrick, we’re more comfortable that if we needed to recall a goaltender due to injury, that he’s more ready to do that.”

Yzerman also said the goaltending, generally, at Syracuse “hasn’t been up to par. We want to give our team the best opportunity to make the playoffs and, hopefully, do well in the playoffs. So, We were looking to upgrade there, too.”

Desjardins, 27, was in the Lightning organization, and played in two NHL games in 2010-11. He won both with a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage. …

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Photo gallery: Canadiens 4, Lightning 3 (SO)

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View images of the Lightning's loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

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Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ryan Malone might be out 3-4 weeks, coach Boucher says

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone might be out three to four weeks with an undisclosed lower-body injury, meaning he could miss as many as 14 games, coach Guy Boucher said. Previously, the team said Malone, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Sunday, was day-to-day.

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