Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Hedman (ill) returns after three-game absence

GLENDALE, Ariz. — D Victor Hedman is finally back.

The All-Star returned to the Lightning lineup for Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Coyotes after missing three games with an illness.

But fellow D Jason Garrison had to sit out because he is now sick.

Though Hedman declined to elaborate on what ailed him, clearly it was bad enough for him to be sidelined for the first three games of a make-or-break six-game trip. Hedman tried to play Monday in Los Angeles but left warmups early.

"It's tough to go through," Hedman said. "Probably the first time I've been sick like this."

Hedman said he started to feel better Thursday, when he could finally get a workout in. On Friday he was a full participant in practice. Hedman said his teammates played "incredible" without him, allowing just four regulation goals in the three games, which the Lightning went 1-1-1.

"Guys stepped up and shared the load and put us in position to win games," coach Jon Cooper said. "It shows that if you play good team defense — and I emphasize team — it shouldn't matter how many guys come in and out" of the lineup.

KUCH CONTROL: With the Lightning struggling to score last and trailing by goal Thursday, RW Nikita Kucherov had a 2-on-1 with D Luke Witkowski.

Kucherov passed, and the rush was thwarted. Kucherov, the team's leading scorer, has been passing a little too much lately, including racking up zero shots on goal in Thursday's 2-1 loss in San Jose.

In the four games before Saturday, Kucherov had as many shots (eight) as fourth-line wing Gabriel Dumont. But he had six against the Coyotes, though none resulted in a goal.

"The one thing with 'Kuch,' we've talked with him, he's got to shoot more," Cooper said. "He's somebody that knows how to put the puck in the net and is probably being a little too unselfish and trying to set up other guys, which he's done a heck of job of. And the other guys aren't finishing as well.

"When he's got the puck on his stick, you want him to pull the trigger. And if he does that a little bit more, things will go well for him."

Kucherov has said it's a habit dating to his days growing up in Russia to always look to set up teammates if they're open. He still has a team-high 17 goals, but just two in the past nine.

HIS TURN: With Garrison out, Jake Dotchin made his NHL debut as the team's seventh defenseman.

Dotchin had been a healthy scratch the past two games since getting called up Tuesday from AHL Syracuse. The 2012 sixth-round draft pick became the 34th different player to play for the Lightning this season.

ON THE MOVE: RW Erik Condra was placed on waivers for the second time this season. If he clears, he will report to Syracuse. The move could mean RW J.T. Brown (upper body) is closer to a return. He practiced last week in a red noncontact jersey. He missed his seventh straight game.

NUTS AND BOLTS: LW Joel Vermin was a healthy scratch. … The team's annual rookie dinner is today in Arizona, and at least C Brayden Point will have help with the tab with Dotchin, Vermin and RW Gabriel Dumont on the trip. Quipped veteran D Braydon Coburn: "It's a rite of passage."

Comments
Lightning journal: Vasilevskiy’s bottom line, Callahan’s production concern

Lightning journal: Vasilevskiy’s bottom line, Callahan’s production concern

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The rest of the Lightning players had left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon for a quick change before the team’s charter flight to Minnesota.But G Andrei Vasilevskiy stayed ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first 20-plus games this season, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness knew "the look" was coming.The other team’s top line would jump over the boards and Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev would peek over at Bow...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

One week from today, Tampa will be the center of the hockey world.The All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. Players will smile for the cameras. They'll put on a fantastic show. Maybe they'll catch a bead or two from a Gasparilla parade.But you ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

The rest of the Lightning players had already left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room for a quick change before the team's charter flight to Minnesota.But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 23, stayed on late, facing about 15 minutes mo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

TAMPA — Vegas has left the building.Wasn't the Lightning just arranging place settings for next weekend's NHL All-Star Game party?With that in mind, I headed to the home dressing room at Amalie Arena late Thursday after the Lightning was manhan...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

SUNRISE — Aaron Ekblad scored 40 seconds into overtime to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights on Friday, spoiling Vegas coach Gerard Gallant’s return to Florida. By gaining a point, Vegas moved within one point of the Lightning...
Published: 01/19/18
Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Steven Stamkos sat at his stall in a near-empty Lightning dressing room Thursday and did what captains often do:He shouldered some blame for the Lightning's listless 4-1 loss to Vegas."As a leader, I've got to be a lot better,...
Published: 01/19/18
Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

TAMPA — The NHL All-Star Game is coming to town next weekend, reaffirming our community's ability to step into the breach when needed. We don't stop until we get the Winter Olympics. So, don't be surprised if those next Rays stadium plans ...
Published: 01/19/18
Steven Stamkos: ‘I have to be a lot better’

Steven Stamkos: ‘I have to be a lot better’

There was plenty of blame to go around after the Lightning's 4-1 loss to the Golden Knights Thursday night.This loss wasn't on one person, no question.But captain Steven Stamkos showed some leadership by shouldering some responsibility for the team's...
Published: 01/19/18
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising. After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had team...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18