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Lightning recalls Brett Connolly from AHL Syracuse

The Lightning on Thursday recalled right wing Brett Connolly from AHL Syracuse.

Tampa Bay did not practice on Thursday and no players missed Wednesday's practice, so there were no additional injuries that prompted the call-up. Right wing Richard Panik has been struggling, though, with zero goals and five assists and at minus-9. He has had just four shots on goal in his past five games. ALl the shots came Oct. 26 against Buffalo.

But general manager Steve Yzerman said the move is not exclusively tied to Panik, about whom he said, "We're pleased with his effort. He's doing a lot of good things on the ice."

"We're trying to find the right fits, the right line combinations," Yzerman said.

Yzerman added there are no immediate plans to send anyone down to Syracuse and no trades are imminent.,

Coach Jon Cooper certainly did not like the Lightning's past two games, a 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers on Sunday in which Tampa Bay scored two goals in the game's first five minutes but only one thereafter, and Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Devils in which the team was sluggish and outshot 22-17. …

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Radko Gudas' game misconduct from Squirt-gate rescinded

The NHL rescinded Radko Gudas' game misconduct he received for Sunday's Squirt-gate incident against the Panthers.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The NHL rescinded Radko Gudas' game misconduct he received for Sunday's Squirt-gate incident against the Panthers.

The Lightning and defenseman Radko Gudas got some good news Tuesday when the NHL rescinded Gudas' game misconduct he received for Sunday's Squirt-gate incident against the Panthers.

That is an important distinction as a player with three misconducts in a season automatically is suspended for one game. Gudas also saves the automatic $200 fine that comes with a misconduct.

"It's something that works in our favor, so it's good to see," coach Jon Cooper said, and added. "In the heat of the game, calls get made. Coaches disagree with calls all the time, so it's in the nature. I respect the call (referee Tim Peel) made. I understand, partially, why he made it, but I think the league got it right."

"The 24-hour rule," Cooper said. "Sleep on it, everybody got it right in the end, so it's good."

Gudas was given a slashing penalty, a 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct with 7:09 left in the second period of Tampa Bay's 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers when he angrily broke his stick over the boards in front of the Florida bench after Panthers wing Scottie Upshall squirted Gudas with blue Gatorade. …

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Steven Stamkos is the NHL's No. 1 star of the week

Lightning center Steven Stamkos was named the NHL's first star of the week for the week ending Sunday. Stamkos had three goals and seven points in three Tampa Bay victories, and had the shootout winner Sunday against the Panthers.

It is the third time Stamkos has been the league's first star.

Here is the announcement from the league: …

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Video: Radko Gudas smashes stick on boards after being squirted with water by Florida's Scottie Upshall

Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas received a 10-minute and a game misconduct during Sunday's game with the Panthers.

Gudas went a little haywire with 7:09 left in the second period after Scottie Upshall, from the Florida bench, squirted him with water. Gudas smashed and broke his stick across the top of the boards in front of the Florida bench.

The ejection left the Lightning with five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

You can watch the incident here, though it is a bit tough to see Upshall's water squirt.

 

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Lineup is tweaked as Tampa Bay prepares for the Sabres

Defenseman Keith Aulie is playing tonight for only the second time this season.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defenseman Keith Aulie is playing tonight for only the second time this season.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Saturday noted how the schedule "tightens up" in November. With thatin mind, as well as the belief it is inevitable roster depth will be tested, he shook up the lineup a bit for Saturday's game with the Sabres. Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were added. Defenseman Andrej Sustr and wing P.C. Labrie are scratched.

It is just the second games this season for Aulie and Barberio.

"We've had some guys who have been sitting out," Cooper said. "We've got games coming up and we have to get those guys in and get them some reps."

Barberio, who hasn't played since the season-opener on Oct. 3, and Aulie, whose only game was Oct. 8 at Buffalo, said they were looking forward to the chance.

"But you can't come in and try to do too much or think about the next game," Barberio said. "I get to play tonight, so that's my focus, and putting my best foot forward. Keep things simple. Just try to move the puck up quick and get in the rush if there's a chance. Just play my game." …

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Video: Blackhawks and former Lightning G Nikolai Khabibulin before Thursday's game at Tampa Bay

In three previous games against the Lightning, Nikolai Khabibulin is 2-0-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Getty Images

In three previous games against the Lightning, Nikolai Khabibulin is 2-0-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

For just the second time since he left the Lightning after the 2003-04 Stanley Cup season, Nikolai Khabibulin will play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum when the Blackhawks face Tampa Bay tonight.

In three previous games against the Lightning, Khabibulin is 2-0-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. About playing at the Times Forum, Khabibulin said it always is special. "This is where it all happened," he said. "I like the fans here. I had such a great experience here. Every time coming back, whether I play or not, is pretty special." …

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Stamkos shows acting ability in Coke Zero commercial

Steven Stamkos stars in Coke Zero's new commercial.

Coke Zero Canada

Steven Stamkos stars in Coke Zero's new commercial.

Steven Stamkos says he doesn't like acting. But the Lightning center did pretty well in his new Coke Zero commercial.

Watch the video here

"Definitely getting a little more press than I'd like to," Stamkos said. "But it's gone well. The camera crews are pretty good at editing out all my mistakes, so it was fun."

Asked if he enjoyed acting, Stamkos said, "Not really. I think I think I'll stick to hockey. It is something that is fun but it does take a lot of work. You have a new-found respect for actors and stuff like that, the actual time they're there."

The skit is two minutes, but Stamkos said he was on the set for nine hours.

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Lightning tries to move past Saturday's ugly loss

The admittedly embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Bruins Saturday night was tough enough for the Lightning to swallow.

But now Tampa Bay must wait four days to get that bitter taste out of its mouth, as it doesn’t play again until Thursday when it hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.

For some, like defenseman Victor Hedman, who was a minus-five Saturday, it can’t come soon enough.

“Usually, when you have a tough game like I had, you want to get right back into it,” Hedman said. “But you have to be professional about it, you have to face adversity sometimes. We obviously can learn from this. The good thing is that it is game eight and not game 75 with a lot on the line. But we can’t come out like this and expect to win a hockey game. We have to refocus and we will come to work again (today).”

The Lightning (5-3), which took Sunday off and returns to practice Monday, was more disappointed in (italics) how (italics end) it lost Saturday than the actual result. Boston came into Tampa Bay’s home ice and won all the key battles, showing more grit than the Lightning, with center Steven Stamkos saying “they wanted it more.” …

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Lindback: I'd start Bishop, too

As competitive as goalie Anders Lindback is, he wants to be in net every night.

But Lindback understands why he has mostly been on the bench, with red-hot Ben Bishop starting Saturday against the Bruins for the sixth time in the past seven games. Bishop won his first five starts and had a 1.57 goals-against average.

“It’s no secret, he’s playing awesome right now,” Lindback said. “I’d probably do the same if I was the coach. I just have to stay ready and wait for my next opportunity. I mean, it’s good, we’re winning hockey games, and it’s going well for the team. That’s what is most important right now.”

With the Lightning not playing again until Thursday, Lindback’s wait gets longer. His last start was Oct. 12 against the Penguins. He also started the season opener in Boston. Coach Jon Cooper said Lindback played well, but he lost both games and had a 4.07 GAA.

“When it comes down to it, I’ve got to be better,” Lindback said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s really that simple. It’s good we have that competition. We’re doing well, so I can’t complain.” …

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Lightning plan to ride hot hand of Bishop

Goalie Ben Bishop has taken a firm grip of the Lightning's No. 1 goalie job, having won his first five starts.

And Bishop is expected to be in net again Saturday night when Tampa Bay hosts the Bruins, his sixth start in the last seven games.

Bishop is playing with a lot of confidence, and that was evident during a second-period save Thursday, when he gloved a shot onto his stick, then flicked it back into his glove, thwarting a flurry with some flair.

"He's feeling the vibe right now," coach Jon Cooper said. "I like that he's calm in the net. He's stopping the ones he should, and some of the ones he probably shouldn't. I think in that moment, he let everybody know, he's feeling it, and it's fun to watch. You want your team to be like that, to have a little swag going, I'm a big fan of it."

Cooper made it clear that G Anders Lindback has handled the situation like a pro, and will get his share of opportunities, too. Lindback, who made his two starts against the Penguins and Bruins, going 0-2 with a 4.07 goals against average. …

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Video: Marty St. Louis talks about his injury and 3-1 victory over the Wild

Lightning captain Marty St. Louis talks about his injury and Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over the Wild on Oct. 17, 2013, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

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St. Louis (foot) playing tonight vs Wild

Marty St. Louis is off to a terrific start with 10 points on four goals and six assists in six games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Marty St. Louis is off to a terrific start with 10 points on four goals and six assists in six games.

Marty St. Louis was still in a walking boot on Thursday, but that did not stop the Lightning captain from playing tonight against the Wild at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Brett Connolly, called up from AHL Syracuse, also is in the lineup. Pierre-Cedric Labrie is scratched.

St. Louis, who is off to a terrific start with 10 points on four goals and six assists in six games, was hit on his right foot by a Drew Doughty slap shot early in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Kings.

Cooper said all tests were negative in that there are no broken bones and St. Louis cannot do more damage to the spot where he is hurt. The issue, then, is simply pain tolerance.

"I just don't want someone in there who is going to be apprehensive, not being the Marty we're used to seeing," Cooper said. "We'll find out game time. That will determine Brett's fate."

Cooper was talking about Brett Connolly, who was called up Wednesday night from AHL Syracuse, and who skated in the morning in St. Louis' right wing spot on a line with center Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone. …

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Marty St. Louis misses practice with lower body injury; status for Thursday's game uncertain

Marty St. Louis had two goals and three points in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Kings.

AP photo

Marty St. Louis had two goals and three points in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Kings.

Lightning captain Marty St. Louis missed Wednesday's practice with what the team said was a lower-body injury. There was no other immediate information, though St. Louis apparently was seen leaving the Tampa Bay Times Forum wearing a walking boot.

St. Louis, who had two goals and three points in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Kings, took a Drew Doughty slap shot off a foot about five minutes into the third period while killing a penalty. He finished the game but walked with a noticeable limp as he left the locker room after the game.

St. Louis, 38, is off to a terrific start with four goals and 10 points in his first six games. His 10 points are second in the league behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

More information should be available after practice.

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Stamkos on getting helped to the bench by the ref vs. Penguins: 'It was a weird situation'

Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he is not exactly sure what the rule is concerning a referee helping a player in distress. But he said he knows the Penguins bench "was losing its mind" when it saw during Saturday night's game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum referee Gord Dwyer give Stamkos a push toward the bench late in the third period.

Seems Stamkos's left skate blade had come dislodged from its plastic anchor. Stamkos, who was having trouble even standing on one skate, was on the other side of the ice and diagonal from Tampa Bay's bench when Dwyer offered assistance.

"I couldn't actually move," Stamkos said Tuesday, reliving the odd moment. "The ref saw I couldn't move. He said, 'Do you want a little push?' I was like, 'Sure.' I still don't know what the rule is. I know the Pittsburgh bench was losing its mind and we ended up scoring, too."

In fact, Stamkos' replacement once he got to the bench -- center Tyler Johnson -- got the second assist on Alex Killorn's goal that tied the game 4-4 with 3:02 left in the third period. Pittsburgh would wiin 5-4 on Matt Niskanen's power-play goal with 18.6 seconds left.

You can watch the video of Stamkos here. …

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Wednesday: Chat live with Tom Jones, 12:30

Want to talk about the beginning of the Lightning's season? The Bucs' 0-5 start? The off-field drama surrounding the team? The decisions facing the Rays in the offseason? College football? Whatever's on your mind, join Times sports columnist Tom Jones for a live chat Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

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