Tampa Bay Lightning notebook: Free agent Sean Bergenheim credits linemates for early success

TAMPA — LW Sean Bergenheim, a free agent signee, continued his strong play and provided one of the few offensive highlights for the Lightning in its 4-3 loss Sunday night against the Predators.

He scored his third goal of the season to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at the 6:30 mark of the opening period and, with veteran LW Simon Gagne still out, Bergenheim joined the line of C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Teddy Purcell for a second consecutive game.

"They're two really, really skilled players and they see the ice real well, and I try to do my thing," he said. "Knowing what to do (in this system) always helps when you play with different linemates, but they're such good players, it's easy for whoever plays with them. It's nice to come into that line."

Another day off: Gagne, who has been battling an illness and a stiff neck that came after a hard check into the boards Thursday, missed his second straight game Sunday.

"The neck is getting better; he's still sick but he's got a bit more strength, but we're playing against a team that has a lot of energy and I don't want to expose Simon," coach Guy Boucher said before the game against the Predators.

He added that if this were playoff time, Gagne would be playing instead of resting further. The Lightning is off until meeting Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"But it's not the playoffs," he said. "It's not the time to extend this any longer than it should be (by rushing back). … So for him right now, get more rest and when he comes back to the game, he'll be 100 percent. Him 100 percent is great, so we'll wait for the great Simon."

Ohlund nearing return: Veteran D Mattias Ohlund continues to recover from a right knee injury that has prevented him from playing all season, but he's improving and pointing toward Wednesday for his season debut.

"Healthwise, I feel good enough to play," he said. "It's just a matter of getting conditioning and timing back."

That's why he spent extra time skating Sunday morning. Boucher's aggressive system puts a premium on conditioning and timing, so Ohlund said it will be a challenge initially to perform at the level he expects of himself.

"But I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's no fun when you're not a part of a team being injured, I'm very excited."

Sharing the ice: The Penguins showed up in town early for their game Wednesday, practicing at the Times Forum on Sunday shortly after the Lightning finished its morning workout.

"A lot of teams like to do that down here," Boucher said. "I wonder why."

Hmm. Let's see. Might the weather be a factor? It was storming with a high of 75 in Pittsburgh on Sunday. And here? It was sunny and 89 degrees.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning notebook: Free agent Sean Bergenheim credits linemates for early success 10/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2010 12:07am]

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