Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan feels good after first game action since January

TAMPA — As veteran RW Ryan Callahan was riding a stationary bike before Friday's exhibition game, he felt nervous. There was anxiety.

"I'm like, 'I haven't had this feeling in a while for a preseason game,' " Callahan said.

Callahan, 32, hadn't played in a game since Jan. 7, when his nagging hip issues ended his season. A followup procedure on the surgically repaired labrum had Callahan confident the problem was finally fixed.

But Friday would be his first test.

That's why Callahan was so encouraged after the 3-1 win over the Predators at Amalie Arena. Though he played just 8 minutes, 25 seconds, he said he felt comfortable playing his physical game, delivering two hits, blocking two shots and returning to the penalty kill. He also made a highlight-reel, cross-zone feed to set up Yanni Gourde's goal in the third period.

"I felt good," Callahan said. "I felt like I missed nine months the first period or so. It's just timing, getting your legs. But once I got going, I got more comfortable."

When Callahan was trying to play through the hip injury last season — he was limited to 18 games — coach Jon Cooper remembered the wing getting fatigued often. Not so much Friday.

"He had jump, he had energy," Cooper said.

"I didn't think about my hip or anything when I was out there," Callahan said. "It's a big thing for me to get the first game out of my system, blocking shots, taking some hits, giving some hits. It's a good step."

Making his case

Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into him being the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games. But Peca, 24, loved it.

"Any time you get a game, it's a good thing," he said. "It gives you another chance to go out there and do your thing."

Peca has done just that, the 5-foot-8 center making an intriguing case to make the opening-night roster. Peca impressed in a 10-game callup last season, and he has gotten better each preseason game, coach Jon Cooper said. Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.

"To be honest, he looks faster," Cooper said. "He's doing exceptional on the faceoff circle. Just his effort level and everything has been elite since he's been in training camp.

"He's just one of those guys you can put on the penalty kill, the power play, can take the big draw. You need all those things to find your niche, and he's doing that right now."

Camp cuts

The Lightning made 10 more cuts Saturday, trimming the roster to 44. G Connor Ingram, D Matt Spencer, D Mat Bodie and F Alex Gallant were sent to AHL Syracuse. F Shane Conacher (brother of F Cory Conacher), F Kevin Lynch and D Reid McNeil were released from their tryouts. F Otto Somppi was reassigned to his junior team (Halifax, QMJHL.

Nuts and bolts

The Lightning had a scheduled off-ice team activity Saturday. It returns to action today against the Panthers (4 p.m.), the final home exhibition game. … Lightning alumni play the U.S. women's team after today's game in a free exhibition. … D Victor Hedman, a huge soccer fan, served as the official captain for Saturday's Rowdies game at Al Lang Stadium.

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

Comments
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Published: 04/21/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

TAMPA — In the postseason, teams want to bank days off so they are as fresh as can be for the next round. That's why it was so important for the Lightning to close out Jersey in five. The fewer the games, the less wear and tear on the body, les...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Published: 04/21/18
Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

TAMPA — After clinging to a 1-0 lead for more than two periods Saturday, the Lightning got a long-awaited cushion — and ultimately the winning goal — when Nikita Kucherov scored with 7:33 left in the final period of a 3-1 victo...
Published: 04/21/18