Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher won't criticize Steve Downie for Rangers fight

PHILADELPHIA — The 10-game stretch leading to Thursday's game with the Rangers had been good for Steve Downie.

The Lightning right wing, whose 65 penalty minutes entered Saturday fourth in the league, had committed just one two-minute minor infraction.

And coach Guy Boucher wasn't about to criticize Downie for his part in Thursday's fracas with the Rangers' Artem Anisimov, even though GM Steve Yzerman said Downie might be fined by the league.

"I know one thing," Boucher said, "our players acted right."

C Vinny Lecavalier, D Marc-Andre Bergeron and Downie took turns trying to get at Anisimov during the second period of Tampa Bay's 3-2 shootout victory. Anisimov held his stick like a rifle and pretended to shoot at G Mathieu Garon after scoring. Downie, coming over the boards on a line change as the confrontation began, sat on top of the boards watching until the scrum heated up, then joined in. He was called for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.

The league has not taken action against Downie, who was called for boarding against the Flyers in Saturday's 5-2 loss.

"He's trying to keep himself on the ice," Boucher said. "He's trying to stay focused. … Obviously, it's a fight for him to make sure he's in line with that. But he's been really good about it."

CONACHER RISING: Norfolk's Cory Conacher leads all AHL rookies in scoring with 29 points on 14 goals and 15 assists, continuing the play that made him a top training-camp story.

"His play away from the puck, his overall understanding of the system has really come together," Norfolk GM Julien BriseBois said. "He's been a really good addition to our organization, and right now he's looking like a good prospect for the NHL."

First, Conacher, 21, under a minor-league deal, must sign an NHL contract. The Lightning owns Conacher's rights until July 1, when he can become an unrestricted free agent. BriseBois said Conacher and his agent have been told "we are planning on signing him."

"But there are timing issues," BriseBois said, so the team is "holding pat." Because Conacher is older than 20, he will lose one of the three years in which he is exempt from waivers as soon as he plays one pro game under an NHL contract. In that sense, it would be better for Tampa Bay to sign him after the season.

"We have other players (in Norfolk) doing really well in terms of who we call up next if we need a player," BriseBois said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RW Marty St. Louis (facial fractures) flew to Tampa after spending Friday at his Connecticut home with wife Heather. … D Pavel Kubina (lower body), on injured reserve, is eligible to play. Boucher said his return depends on his conditioning. … C Nate Thompson played after missing one game with an upper-body injury.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Flyers did not use the stall tactics that caused a ruckus the last time the teams met. … Garon made one of the season's best saves in the game, stopping Sean Couturier with his left leg and stick twice as the puck slid toward the net. … Tampa Bay blocked a season-high 26 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher won't criticize Steve Downie for Rangers fight 12/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 11:49pm]

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