Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning journal: Brett Connolly thriving with Capitals after leaving Lightning

TAMPA — The first time Capitals coach Barry Trotz spoke with wing Brett Connolly, the former Lightning No. 6 overall pick admitted that he probably got put in the NHL too soon.

Connolly played 68 games with the Lightning in 2011-12 season as a 19-year-old straight out of junior. He then bounced back and forth from the AHL the next few years before getting dealt by Tampa Bay in 2015. The Capitals were his third team in three years.

"He said, 'I sort of lost my way a little bit,' " Trotz said of Connolly. " 'And I'm trying to find my way back.' "

It certainly looks as if Connolly, 24, has, entering Saturday's game with the Lightning with a career-high 15 goals in 56 games. Connolly, on a show-me one-year, $850,000 deal, said playing a third-line role on a really good team took some pressure off him. And he's averaging only 10:53 a game.

"I've found that confidence again to score on a consistent basis," Connolly said.

It didn't happen right away, with Connolly a healthy scratch for a good portion of the season. Coach Jon Cooper, who had Connolly in AHL Syracuse and Tampa Bay, said he's happy for him.

"He has just a natural ability to score," Cooper said. "I think it took him a little time to find his way in the league, but he's found a home in Washington. He's kind of settled into a really good spot. They've got some guys that carry the spotlight there, the (Alex) Ovechkins and (Nicklas) Backstroms. And Brett slides in there and quietly has 15 goals. He can do that. He's become that secondary scoring that teams desperately look for."

Trotz pointed out that everyone, high pick or not, has his own path.

"Not everyone is a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews," Trotz said. "Some guys don't get off to the start that they want and maybe find success a little later on in their career. Nothing wrong with that."

Medical matters

Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette all missed Saturday's game with lower body injuries. Cooper said there's no timetable for their return, though Namestnikov skated in a red jersey for the second consecutive day.

Quote of the day

"We just put our logo up in the sky and they fly up."

Coach Jon Cooper, channeling Batman, in describing the wave of emergency callups from AHL Syracuse.

Slap shots

Alex Killorn's goal Saturday snapped a 16-game drought. And it was a huge one, tying the score.

• Fitting move by AHL Syracuse to name Erik Condra captain, replacing Luke Witkowski, who is with the Lightning. Condra handled a difficult season (eight callups) with class.

• Bet a lot of Lightning fans held their breath when G Andrei Vasilevskiy left the game four minutes in. He missed just 20 seconds due to a skate issue.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

TAMPA — The Lightning will open its seven-game preseason schedule at home with a 7:30 p.m.  game Sept. 18 against the Carolina Hurricane, the team announced Thursday.That is one of three home games the Lightning will play in a preseason sc...
Published: 06/14/18
Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Sixteen months after acquiring Peter Budaj from the Kings, the Lightning today returned the veteran goaltender to Los Angeles.The Lightning traded Budaj for forward Andy Andreoff, general manager Steve Yzerman announced in a news release.Andreoff, 27...
Published: 06/13/18
Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

This past season didn't end the way Lightning fans might have hoped, but that's no reason to lose hope.In fact, oddsmakers are more bullish on Tampa Bay than any team in the NHL for next season.According to at least one sports betting site, the ...
Published: 06/08/18
Washington has a new hero. His name is Devante Smith-Pelly

Washington has a new hero. His name is Devante Smith-Pelly

LAS VEGAS — Before Devante Smith-Pelly could relax or breathe or even start thinking about his game-tying goal, he had to start moving his feet.The period of recall began midway through the third period Thursday night, when the Capitals trailed, 3-2....
Published: 06/08/18
Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup wait is finally over. Who has waited longer?

Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup wait is finally over. Who has waited longer?

The Washington Capitals won the first Stanley Cup title in the franchise's 43-year history Thursday night in Las Vegas.And still the St. Louis Blues and their fans wait. The Blues marked their 50th NHL season this year; 50 years without a Cup.He...
Published: 06/08/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What could have been for the Lightning

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What could have been for the Lightning

As the Washington Capitals celebrate their first Stanley Cup championship, Rick Stroud reflects on what could have been for the Lightning, which came within a victory of eliminating Washington in the conference final.Plus, the Rays lose in ...
Published: 06/08/18
Capitals win first Stanley Cup, eliminate Golden Knights in 5

Capitals win first Stanley Cup, eliminate Golden Knights in 5

LAS VEGAS — Alex Ovechkin put both hands to his head and screamed while he left the bench and skated into the thick of the Washington Capitals' joyous celebration. And right before Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup, the Washington captain put ...
Published: 06/07/18
Updated: 06/08/18
Here’s what I remember about the Lightning’s Stanley Cup. How about you?

Here’s what I remember about the Lightning’s Stanley Cup. How about you?

You might not recognize the name, but my words were probably some of the first you read after the Lightning won its first – and, so far, only — Stanley Cup 14 years ago today.In the days before social media, email newsletters and push not...
Published: 06/07/18
The Lightning Effect on the Stanley Cup is about to strike again

The Lightning Effect on the Stanley Cup is about to strike again

Call it the Lightning effect.The Washington Capitals are a win away from ending years of frustration and winning their first Stanley Cup.As if we doubted them.RELATED: More Lightning coverageAlex Ovechkin and his Caps teammates have the Tampa Bay Lig...
Published: 06/05/18
Capitals on verge of Stanley Cup after blowing out Golden Knights in Game 4

Capitals on verge of Stanley Cup after blowing out Golden Knights in Game 4

WASHINGTON — Evgeny Kuznetsov smiled about getting four assists. He tried not to smile too much at the thought of being one win away from the Stanley Cup. With Kuznetsov and goaltender Braden Holtby leading the way, the Washington Capitals are on the...
Published: 06/05/18