Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Erik Condra nears Lightning return

NEW YORK — RW Erik Condra was back at practice Monday — and participating in line rushes — with the possibility he could play in tonight's Game 3 against the Islanders.

It was very encouraging for the Lightning considering how bad it looked when Condra's head slammed into the boards after a hit by Islanders' Casey Cizikas in the first period of Wednesday's Game 1. Condra was dazed as he was helped off the ice, saying while he didn't know if he lost consciousness, he was "out of it" for a little.

"It's a scary thing," he said.

Condra said he was in a "fog" briefly but 10 minutes after getting into the locker room he was better and "passing tests." He missed Game 2 but has skated twice since.

"It's weird sometimes," Condra said. "I've seen guys just get bumped and are out for months. Or it looks really bad and you feel pretty good the next day. And that's the way it was for me. And I'm happy about that."

Condra didn't appear to take issue with Cizikas, saying he got hit square at a weird distance from the back boards as he was attempting a pass.

"If I'm closer or further away," he said, "nothing happens."

F Mike Blunden, who missed the first two games of this series with an undisclosed injury, also skated in practice and said he hopes to be ready today.

MEDICAL MATTERS: A few other injured players — D Anton Stralman (fractured leg), J.T. Brown (upper body) and Matt Carle (undisclosed) — skated on their own before practice.

Brown didn't use a stick, an indication he might have a wrist or hand injury. Stralman did a lot of start-and-stop skating drills and shooting. While Carle, who missed Game 2, would appear closer to returning, Cooper wouldn't go as far as to predict Stralman or Brown will play in this series. He had been hopeful before the round started.

"That's what happens when you spout your mouth off, you've got to eat your words at some point," Cooper said. "I'm always the glass half full, so I keep thinking there's a chance, there's a chance. What's the movie? (Dumb and Dumber). That's where we're at."

REPEAT: The Lightning hopes to build off a 4-1 Game 2 win Saturday in which it took control of, outshooting the Islanders 25-5 in the final 30 minutes.

But Tampa Bay, tied 1-1 in the series, knows New York will adjust, especially in its own building.

"We can't expect that every night," C Brian Boyle said. "They're going to come back with a push. It's been two different games, Game 1 and Game 2, we need to understand that there's going to be a different game as well. We've got to come with the same mind-set and understand that we have to try to take one here."

NUTS AND BOLTS: The Lightning had the same lines as Saturday, with the Triplets together. Condra skated on the fourth line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Marchessault. Black aces D Slater Koekkoek and Luke Witkowski made the trip. … There were some rough reviews of the ice at Barclays Center, "Soft," Blunden said. But Tampa Bay noted both teams have to deal with it.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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