Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

No hearing for Lightning's Ryan Callahan on Kris Letang hit

PITTSBURGH — The Lightning dodged a bullet Saturday when RW Ryan Callahan did not receive supplemental discipline from the league for his boarding penalty on Penguins D Kris Letang in Friday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

Callahan didn't even have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety. It looked like he would get one after receiving a five-minute boarding major early in the first period after he hit Letang into the boards in the left corner of the Pittsburgh zone. Letang had his back turned, and Callahan drove his neck and head into the boards.

Letang left the game for a short time, then returned.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, in a conference call with reporters Saturday, said he had no "thoughts or observations" on the hit or the league's decision.

"The NHL is going to do their job, and we're going to do ours," Sullivan said. "We're just going to play hockey."

That Callahan has no discipline history in his 620-game career might have played into the league's decision, as might have Letang returning to the game and being "fine," Sullivan said.

Callahan said after the game he had no malicious intent, and circumstances made the hit look "worse than it was."

"I'm trying to ride (Letang) in there obviously on the forecheck, and unfortunately he turns at the last second," Callahan said. "I'm committed, I think, when he turns his head, and his body is pretty low. So I'm trying to pin him, and in that split second, I can't really make a decision. Unfortunately, I think the position he was in made it worse than it was, and it was good to see him come back. Obviously, you don't want to see anybody injured, and that's not what you're trying to do.

"You know, that's not the way I play. I've never been fined or suspended, so I take a lot of pride in that, to be an honest player. It was good to see that he came back."

Callahan has one goal and two assists in 11 playoff games, but coach Jon Cooper said he has been integral to the team's success, filling the leadership void left by the absence of captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot).

"Callahan may not show up on the score sheet every night, but he shows up on the game sheet in the room every night," Cooper said, "so having him still be with us is big."

JOHNNY BE GOOD: C Tyler Johnson appeared to be fine after being temporarily sidelined in Game 1 due to a knee-to-knee hit from Penguins F Chris Kunitz.

Johnson had to be helped off the ice late in the first period, favoring his right knee. He came back during the second period but played just 12:33.

"He felt he was good enough to go," Cooper said. "But he went through a battery of tests as well. But that was a big lift on the bench when he came back, just for what he's done for us, what he brings to our team and how important he is. It just goes and shows some pretty tough characters in that locker room."

GOALIE WATCH: With Penguins G Matt Murray giving up three goals in Friday's 3-1 loss, Sullivan was asked whether he would consider turning to veteran Marc-Andre Fleury in Monday's Game 2. Fleury has served as Murray's backup since returning from a concussion in Pittsburgh's second-round series win over the Capitals. Sullivan said Murray didn't have a subpar performance and the Lightning scored on "high-quality chances." But Sullivan said he was leaving his options open for every position.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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