Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

J,T. Brown expected to miss rest of Lightning's first-round series

DETROIT — The Lightning has been dealt another blow up front, with forward J.T. Brown expected to miss the rest of the first-round series against the Red Wings, and possibly more, due to an upper-body injury sustained Friday during Game 2.

Brown, 25, a key cog on the shutdown line and penalty kill, got hurt in the first period while blocking a shot near the blue line. He didn't return. Brown was arguably the team's most consistent forward this season, with a career bests in goals (eight), points (22) and plus-minus (plus-16) this season.

"It's our third playoffs together, and if you're going to pull that unsung-hero tag, he's definitely at the top of the list," coach Jon Cooper said. "He won't light the scoreboard up in points, but you're not going to find too many more bigger gamers than J.T. Brown. That's a tough loss for us. But in the mantra of the (Steven) Stamkoses and (Anton) Stralmans, let's just keep this going and make sure that wasn't J.T. Brown's last game."

For tonight's Game 3, expect RW Erik Condra or RW Jonathan Marchessault to take Brown's spot. Both Condra and Marchessault have been scratched the first two games.

Not done: The Lightning feels good, and it should, after taking a 2-0 series lead; teams in that position win 86 percent of best-of-seven series (298-48), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. But as Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Saturday, "the series isn't over after two games."

"We haven't really accomplished anything yet," Lightning D Matt Carle said. "We held serve, winning our two home games. We can expect a new level of desperation from them. We've got to be ready for that."

Carry over? The Lightning wasn't pleased with Red Wings LW Justin Abdelkader repeatedly punching RW Mike Blunden while he was down on the ice during the brawl in the final minute of Friday's Game 2.

Abdelkader said the day after that he was at the bottom of the pile after getting jumped from behind. He doesn't anticipate retribution.

"I think lots of emotions run high in the playoffs, at the end of a game there," Abdelkader told the Detroit News. "It's been a physical series. I think each game kind of takes its own shape. I don't expect anything else. I think both teams are focused on winning games."

Bish please: While G Ben Bishop has seemed to fly under the radar in the first two games, he has played a key role, especially in a penalty kill unit that has gone 9-for-10. Bishop has stopped 64 of 68 possible shots.

"He was a big factor in Game 1; I don't know if we win that without him," Cooper said. "Our penalty kill has been getting a few accolades, but who is the guy with all the saves back there? It's Ben Bishop."

What they're saying: Funny line by C Valtteri Filppula, asked if he expects an angry Red Wings team in Game 3. "I think they've been pretty angry so far." And on the home crowd in Tampa the first two games? "I'm surprised there wasn't more red," Filppula said. "But happily surprised."

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