Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning goalies ready to work together

RALEIGH, N.C. — An interesting aspect of next season's goalie tandem of Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop will be how they balance being competitors for playing time and teammates.

No problem, they said.

"It's the same for any position," Lindback said Thursday. "We're both working as hard as we can to play and to be the best out there. I don't think it's that hard. You have to put yourself aside and always look for the best for the team."

What's best, GM Steve Yzerman has said, is that next season Lindback and Bishop, acquired Wednesday from the Senators, share net duties so they can develop without the pressure of carrying a team. That also creates competition for playing time, a good thing to sharpen skills but perhaps a relationship test.

"I'm sure I'm going to be good friends with him," Bishop said of Lindback. "I've never had a problem with a goalie partner. You have to cheer them on. When it's your chance to play, play well."

Besides, said ex-Flames GM Craig Button, an NHL Network analyst, "We're not talking about an established No. 1 that you're bringing in … to compete for his job. These two guys are in the infancy of their careers. They need to compete." While working together. "If you get quality people, they're going to dig in for the team," Button said.

IN BUSINESS: C Vinny Lecavalier returned after missing nine games with a fractured left foot and played 12:17 in the 5-0 win against Carolina and won six of eight faceoffs.

MORE INJURIES: Lindback (high ankle sprain) skated and said he wants to play this season. … RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) also skated.

WELCOME BACK: It was tough to take at first, RW Brett Connolly said, but his stint this season with AHL Syracuse was "the best thing for me." Connolly, who played last season as a sometimes-overwhelmed 19-year-old rookie, said once he got over the demotion, he worked. "More confident," said Connolly, who had 27 goals, 57 points in 67 games before Wednesday's callup. "For me, confidence is my game. I played a lot of key minutes, and it was nice to score again and round out my game."

Coach Jon Cooper, who led Syracuse before taking the Lightning job March 25, said Connolly is "a much different player than when I had him in October." Though he better understands his defensive responsibility, "ultimately, he needs the confidence to have the puck on his stick," Cooper said. "He's a goal scorer. You have to get to the net."

Connolly played 13:17 against Carolina with three shots.

REUNION: D Marc-Andre Bergeron, traded Tuesday from the Lightning to Carolina, said facing ex-teammates is "one of the worst sides of being a hockey player. They were my best buddies like five days ago." He called it "mind-boggling" he got in just 12 games with Tampa Bay.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Nate Thompson served the second and final game of his suspension for a head shot on New Jersey's Matt D'Agostini. … Tampa Bay's power play is 0-for-7 in three games under Cooper and on a 2-for-32 streak.

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