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Lightning goalie Anders Lindback proves his knee is fine

BRANDON — If there was a moment Friday at the Ice Sports Forum in which new Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback proved his recently injured right knee is sound, it was when he contorted his body to stop Marty St. Louis.

It was a messy-looking save, with Lindback flailing his arms and legs while St. Louis did about 12 moves in front of him before getting off a shot.

The sequence over, the players laughed.

"It looks good," Lindback said of the cut on top of his knee, a horizontal wound about an inch long that looks as if it was sliced by a knife. "It healed good. It's not an issue."

Lindback played 77 minutes on Friday, 45 during team skating and shooting drills and a 32-minute scrimmage. His performance was much different from the few minutes he was on the ice Thursday — enough to take only a few shots, after which he retreated to the gym.

That episode sparked questions about if the knee, which needed six stitches when cut by a shot Dec. 18 while Lindback played in Finland, was ready for Sunday's opening of training camp.

"Of course," Lindback said when asked if he understood why the abrupt exit created some concern. "But as I said, it was more of a precaution. I just wanted to take it a little slowly and get into everything. I hadn't been on the ice for a couple of weeks. I didn't want to rush anything."

The knee episode is just the start of the scrutiny Lindback will endure.

Acquired last summer from the Predators and signed to a two-year, $3.6 million deal, Lindback, 24, is expected to be Tampa Bay's long-term solution in net.

He is expected to be the No. 1 goaltender.

"I'm excited to get the chance to prove myself," he said. "I don't really care that much what people say or think because the most pressure I get is from myself. I want to prove myself so bad."

Lindback looked smooth and comfortable Friday as he crouched and set himself in the crease. He used his right leg to lift himself after dropping to the ice to make saves. He stopped forward Kyle Wilson's snap shot with a quick right leg.

And, most impressively, one on one against Steven Stamkos, Lindback got his left foot out to stop the 60-goal scorer, prompting applause from the approximate 100 fans watching.

"He's an excellent goaltender," said Wilson, who came to the Lightning with Lindback. "I'm glad somebody recognized his talent and is giving him a chance. He deserves it."

Lindback played just 38 games the past two seasons backing up Nashville star Pekka Rinne, who, as Lindback said, "wanted to play every game."

"I learned you have to see practice as your games and do what you have to do and develop, watch and learn everything I can," Lindback said.

It doesn't hurt he is 6 feet 6.

"He's quick, big, and he covers angles pretty well," wing Benoit Pouliot said. "It's tough to get anything through."

"You've got to get him moving side to side," Wilson said. "But he's pretty quick, too. It's tough to score goals on him."

At least it was on Friday.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Lightning goalie Anders Lindback proves his knee is fine 01/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 11:17pm]
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