Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Brayden Point gets chance at center

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rookie F Brayden Point has already impressed in his first pro season while playing wing.

And now Point, 20, is finally getting his shot at his natural position, center.

Point was put there in the third period Sunday in Boston, his line with RW Jonathan Drouin and LW Alex Killorn dazzling.

And the trio was to start Tuesday night's game in Columbus together.

"You try to bring (Point) along slow in pro hockey," coach Jon Cooper said. "But put him in the middle of it and see what he can do in his natural position. That's what we want to see in him so we'll give it a shot."

Point, who has 10 points in his first 23 NHL games, said he feels more comfortable at center, where he can use his speed more. Having a talented wing like Drouin on his side helps; Drouin had a team-high eight shots Sunday.

"Jo's obviously such a skilled player, he just makes whoever he plays with better," Point said. "So I'll try to complement him."

BROWN BACK: RW J.T. Brown returned after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury he said he suffered during the Nashville game Nov. 21. After skating the next day, Brown said he didn't feel right and made sure not to rush his way back.

"You don't want to turn something you can take a few days, a week here to get right instead of making something long-term," Brown said.

While Brown was back, RW Ryan Callahan was scratched due to a lower-body injury. Tampa Bay went with seven defensemen, as D Luke Witkowski was in. Callahan had participated in Tuesday's morning skate. He's considered day to day.

STEP UP: C Vladislav Namestnikov has seen his ice time dwindle recently, logging fewer than 11 minutes Sunday for the third time in five games.

"I just have to play better," Namestnikov said. "I expect better from myself and so do the coaches."

What does he have to do? Just skate better, get in on the forecheck and be more physical. I think I've been soft lately. I need to do the little things right."

SAD DAY: RW Alex Killorn said he and several teammates were planning on going out for breakfast on Monday's off day when he turned on CNN and found out about the car-and-knife attack by a student at nearby Ohio State University. So they stayed in. "It's still a scary situation," Killorn said. "Crazy that it happened so close to us." Assistant Todd Richards' son, Zac, 20, is an Ohio State student, but didn't have class Monday so the two were together.

WITH HONORS: Of the 32 players picked for Canada's World Junior camp, six were Lightning prospects: F Brett Howden, F Mathieu Joseph, G Connor Ingram, F Taylor Raddysh, F Anthony Cirelli and F Mitchell Stephens.

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started. D Anton Stralman, who had hoped to return on this three-game road trip, missed his ninth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. … Richards, the former Columbus head coach, was honored with a first-period video message in Tuesday's return.

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

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