Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Cooper tries out different line setups

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lineup tweaks happen all the time in the NHL. And as Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of his juggling for Tuesday's game with the Sabres, "It's Game 3, so we're trying different things out."

But given the fanfare around the promotion from AHL Syracuse of the line of C Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat — and how well it played in the preseason — scratching Panik got some extra attention.

"Sometimes things aren't rolling right for them," Cooper said. "Sometimes it's good to break up the family."

Especially after two games in which the line had just four shots on goal and was minus-5. "We have to find a way to transfer to the NHL how we were playing in the AHL," Panik said. "The first two games, we didn't play so good, so we have to find a way."

RW Teddy Purcell took Panik's spot. Tom Pyatt took over for Purcell on a line with C Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn.

Moving Purcell had its own back story. Cooper said Purcell and Filppula are too much of the same player — pass-first types — to be on the same line. But Purcell's puck skills might be able to help Johnson and Palat.

"Teddy can create some space for some people," Cooper said.

As for the Johnson-Palat-Panik line, it is not dead.

"We sit here and say, 'Oh, well, the three of them made the team,' " he said. "The three of them would have made the team individually as well. Sometimes you just got to split them up."

"It's disappointing, but I guess I deserve it," Panik said. "I don't want to get sent down. I'm going to try to convince the coach I am still part of this team, and I will work hard in practice and after practices off-ice, and we'll see what happens."

PYATT HURT: Pyatt left the game with 13 minutes left in the third period with a broken collarbone, the team said. He is out indefinitely. A callup from AHL Syracuse is likely. Pyatt, in his first game of the season, had a shot and a hit in 13:15 of ice time.

MORE MOVES: Rookie D Andrej Sustr was scratched in favor of Keith Aulie. "He deserves to be in," Cooper said of Aulie, a scratch in the first two games. "Aulie is a good defenseman in this league. … Guys got to get in and play."

"It's tough sitting out," said Aulie, who last season played 45 of 48 games. "You feel like you're outside of the team for a couple of hours." Paired with Eric Brewer, Aulie, a lefty, called playing the right side "a new challenge" and had 12:41 of ice time.

POTENTIAL: Sustr, 22, has impressed even while acclimating to the speed of the game. In the first two games of the season, he had zero points and was minus-1, but he had four shots and averaged 19:20 of ice time.

Cooper called the 6-foot-8, 225-pounder "an almost every-dayer in our lineup, and in the not-to-distant future he'll be an every-dayer. (He) has a really good mind for the game."

"I'm not disappointed in anything," Sustr said of sitting out. "I'll just take it as it is, and I'm just going to keep working hard."

BLUE CARPET: Lightning players will walk the blue carpet at the Tampa Bay Times Forum beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday before the home opener against the Panthers. Players will sign autographs and take photos. The first 10,000 fans get thunder sticks.

ODDS AND ENDS: About 1,000 tickets remained for the home opener. … D Mark Barberio also was scratched.

 
Comments
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blueline. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by Steve (Yze...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I'm going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years....
Updated: 4 hours ago
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Published: 04/19/18
Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

TAMPA — The second period was not even four minutes old Wednesday night when Devils right wing Patrick Maroon skated all alone toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was a moment that could turn a game and even a series.A goal and the score would be tie...
Published: 04/19/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Former UCF and Lakewood High standout Shaquem Griffin understandably has been focused on the NFL draft next week in Arlington, Tex., where he is projected as a potential second-day pick.But the Lightning's playoff run  hasn't escaped his attenti...
Published: 04/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Nikita Kucherov scores two goals and delivers some big hits as the Lightning beats the Devils, 3-1, in a physical Game 4 that pushes Tampa Bay to within one win of clinching the series.Meanwhile, the Rays beat the Rangers to as Jake Faria pitche...
Published: 04/19/18
Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils pulled out all the stops for Wednesday's Game 4 of their Stanley Cup quarter final series with the Lightning by inviting David Puddy at the Prudential Center.For those who do not know who he is, Puddy was Elaine's...
Published: 04/19/18
Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

NEWARK, N.J. — Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Taking Care of Business shook the walls of the Lightning locker room not long after it dispatched the Devils in Wednesday's Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.The 3-1 win was sparked by Nikita K...
Published: 04/18/18