Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning scratches Filppula for missing meeting

TAMPA — Lightning C Valtteri Filppula was scratched for Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win against the Canadiens, disciplined for missing the team meeting before the morning skate.

"In the end, Val is an unreal pro. He made a mistake," coach Jon Cooper said. "That's it."

It was the first time Filppula, 32, was a healthy scratch in his four seasons with Tampa Bay. The oldest player on the team, Filppula had a point in five of his previous eight games and is third on the team with 24 points. He participated in the morning skate.

His absence created an opening for rookie C Matthew Peca, who was called up from AHL Syracuse on Tuesday and made his NHL debut.

Cooper said Filppula would be in the lineup tonight against the Maple Leafs.

TOUGH CALL: RW Nikita Kucherov had the puck alone with nothing between him and Canadiens G Carey Price late in the third period when the whistle blew and the Lightning was penalized for having too many men on the ice. C Brian Boyle was ruled to have still been on the ice when Kucherov caught up to the puck.

The Lightning had tied the score at 3 less than a minute earlier. Now the Canadiens, who had let a 3-1 third-period lead slip away, were on the power play.

It could have been a huge momentum turn, Boyle said.

"You try to execute a certain play," he said. "It's a matter of a couple of feet, maybe. You try to take advantage of a situation. It's obviously a judgement call."

The Canadiens had two early shots during the two-minute advantage, but the Lightning killed off the penalty.

"Maybe I can get off a little quicker," Boyle said. "If they don't see it, it's a breakaway. Who knows."

WELCOME. MATT: Peca made his NHL debut centering the fourth line. He played 16 shifts, had one shot on goal and had 13:03 of ice time.

"It's Christmas season, that's what we do. We give," Cooper said when asked after the morning skate if Peca would be in the lineup.

Peca, 23, was a seventh-round draft pick in 2011. He has 14 goals and 64 points in 101 AHL games. Peca said he was surprised to get the callup from Syracuse.

"A little bit. A couple of guys have been called up throughout the year. I think it speaks to our depth in Syracuse, and I'm happy to get the call," he said.

Cooper said Peca earned the callup with his play this season.

"He's paid his dues, and now it's time for him to get his shot," Cooper said. "He's got the speed to keep up with this game, and we're playing a fast team. Montreal is fast. To have a little more speed in our lineup is going to help."

Cooper said Peca got stronger as the game went on.

TOP PICK SIGNS: F Brett Howden, the 27th overall pick in the 2016 draft, signed a three-year entry level contract.

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