Tyler Johnson 'up in the air' for Friday's game
Think the Lightning has turned the corner?
Tampa Bay is feeling good after winning back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 20-22. But the real test may come Friday in St. Paul, Minn, where the Lightning faces the Western Conference-leading Wild. Tampa Bay hasn't won in Minnesota since the 2010-11 season, dropping four-straight
"I'm excited for this," coach Jon Cooper said. "I want to see where we're at. This will be a good gauge."
The Lightning (24-24-6) might be closer to full strength. Wing Alex Killorn (undisclosed) and Ondrej Palat (undisclosed) both practiced Thursday and are probable for Friday's game, Cooper said. Cooper said center Tyler Johnson's availability is "up in the air" after missing Thursday's skate due to body maintenance. Erik Condra was recalled from AHL Syracuse on Thursday as insurance.
More practice notes: C Brian Boyle and D Andrej Sustr got in a minor scuffle during practice, throwing a few shoves before getting separated by Braydon Coburn. But both players downplayed it afterwards, Boyle saying he was goofing around. Cooper liked the fiesty nature: "Guys are competing," Cooper said. "And when you're seeing that compete in practice, it usually turns over into the game. Had a lot of that lately, and that's why we've strung together a pretty good couple of weeks here," Cooper said. Both Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov are coming off strong games, with Kucherov having two goals, Namestnikov two assists Tuesday. Cooper thinks it is good for both players' confidence. "Kuch had what two goals in his last 10 games, one of those was an empty-netter," Cooper said. "To see him put pucks in the back of the net with confidence. We need that. With Vladdy, he can be a playmaker. We've seen signs of it. It's a good sign for him and Kuch."