TAMPA — The smells of breakfast were more enjoyable this Christmas morning.
D Mike Lundin and his family gathered at his Minnesota home with no games for AHL Norfolk during Christmas week. Then came the call on Christmas Eve; Lundin was being recalled to the Lightning.
He's making the most of this trip.
The highlight has been his second-period goal Saturday in a 4-3 win against the Thrashers, his first goal in 111 NHL games.
He was rewarded with a spot Monday night against Boston. He played 17:12, had two shots and was minus-1.
Lundin's handling of the puck was a big part of his goal against Atlanta. He made a steal in the neutral zone, then turned up ice and dished to C Vinny Lecavalier at the blue line. Caught up in the rush, he kept chugging toward the net, took the return pass and flipped the puck high into the net.
When congratulatory text messages began pouring in, the reactions were similar.
"A lot of people didn't even know I was up here," Lundin said. "They thought I was in the minors, and now I'm on SportsCenter scoring. (The messages) filled the inbox."
Coach Rick Tocchet had this assessment: "He played really well. He had a solid game. He scored a goal, played well defensively. He was on the ice while (high-scoring Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk) was on the ice with (Lightning D Mattias Ohlund). He did a nice job. He's proven that he's an NHL defenseman."
The 81 games Lundin played for the Lightning during the 2007-08 season gave him lots of ice time, but he began to lose confidence. He has spent most of the past two seasons in Norfolk getting plenty of opportunities in the top defensive pairings and on power plays, he said.
"Last year, I got that confidence back in the minors," Lundin said. "My game has improved a lot. Now it's just getting a chance to find a steady position up here. … I know my game is at the level where I can consistently play up here and contribute to the team."
Niittymaki returns: G Antero Niittymaki returned to back up Mike Smith after missing the Atlanta game while wife Miina gave birth Saturday night to daughter Alina Josefina. Niittymaki said Alina was six weeks premature. She weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 18 inches.
"She'll have to stay (in the hospital). We're not sure how long," Niittymaki said. "Everything's going well, so hopefully not too long. … I've had a tough week mentally. … It's time to get back."
Mayday Malone: Entering Monday, LW Ryan Malone led the NHL in winning goals with seven. Malone has had a knack for scoring in clutch situations throughout his career. Tocchet said one reason is positioning. Malone is often camped in front of the net.
"Near the end of a game … usually guys intensify their defensive zone coverage, and people protect the house more," Tocchet said. "So the puck usually ends up there. So it's more of a battle. The guys that go to those areas get those goals."
Odds and ends: D Matt Walker, C Jeff Halpern and LW Todd Fedoruk remain on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, with no updates as of Monday's morning skate.