Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning to face its former goalie, Mike Smith

DALLAS — It probably goes without saying, but Coyotes G Mike Smith said it anyway.

"Obviously," he said of tonight's game with the Lightning, "I've had this date marked on my calendar for a while."

Smith in July signed a two-year, $4 million deal with Phoenix, ending his tumultuous four-year career with Tampa Bay.

That stretch included stellar play, several serious injuries, last season's demotion to AHL Norfolk and his return to form, especially during the playoffs, when he went 1-1 in three games — including a start in Game 5 of the East final against the Bruins — with a 1.00 goals-against average and .958 save percentage.

"I would have liked to stay in Tampa," Smith said Friday by phone from Glendale, Ariz. "It didn't work out. I'm fortunate I've had the chance to be the guy here in Phoenix."

Smith, 29, is 17-12-7 with two shutouts, a 2.41 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He said goaltenders coach Sean Burke has been "a huge, huge mentor for me."

"I've matured a lot as a player. I've learned a lot about my game and what it takes to be more consistent," Smith said. "I don't know if that would have happened if I would have stayed in Tampa. I'm not saying it wouldn't have. I just think I've learned a lot about my game this season than I have in the past."

Smith also is settled with wife Brigitte and son Aksel, 6 months. Quite a difference from when he came to the Lightning in February 2008, with much hype, from the Stars in the Brad Richards deal.

Though Smith acknowledged he did not live up to expectations with Tampa Bay — 43-52-17 with six shutouts, a 2.85 goals-against average and .905 save percentage — he was a locker room presence, and C Nate Thompson called him "one of our favorite guys."

Smith has stayed close to several former teammates.

"It's tough when you have to leave somewhere you've grown such a part of, and those friendships will last forever," Smith said. "It's good in a way, but it's awfully difficult when you have to leave guys like that behind."

Not that Smith will have pity tonight.

"It's going to be an exciting time," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting it going."

HALL MENDING: Adam Hall, Tampa Bay's faceoff leader, hit the ice after the morning skate. The forward was supposed to miss eight weeks after tearing a forearm muscle in a Jan. 5 fight with Ottawa's Mark Carkner, but Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the timetable is accelerated.

"He's done everything the doctors asked him to do," he said. "He's extremely professional, so it's going faster than we thought."

MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: F Tom Pyatt, who left Thursday's practice with a left leg injury, sat and is day to day. … RW Dana Tyrell (lower body) was in the lineup after missing one game. … F J.T. Wyman joined Hall on the ice, though his infected right pinkie still is bothersome. … RW Steve Downie took 12 stitches in the mouth after being hit by the butt end of a stick during the first.

ODDS AND ENDS: G Dwayne Roloson, without a win since Nov. 17 (0-6-1 in 11 games) will face Phoenix. … Pyatt, D Evan Oberg and D Marc-Andre Bergeron (back), not on the trip, were scratched.

Comments
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch had won nine straight heading into Friday’s game against Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental lea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

When Lightning wing Ryan Callahan took a nasty spill into the boards Thursday night, it didn't look good.Turns out, it wasn't. Callahan will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper body injury, evaluated after three to four weeks, per GM Steve Yzerma...
Published: 12/15/17
When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brayden Point is the Lightning’s calmest player, both on the ice and off, according to Victor Hedman.Point’s soft-spoken nature belies his baby face and 5-foot-10 frame. "I’ve never seen him angry before," Hedman said.That ma...
Published: 12/15/17
Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

The Lightning's 4-1 victory over the Coyotes Thursday night still featured the usual post-game music in the dressing room.But there was more of a somber tone with veteran right wing Ryan Callahan's right arm in a sling. Callahan, who got hurt on a na...
Published: 12/15/17
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point."You l...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the dynamic Lightning defenseman. They both were top 10 picks in 2016, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other in th...
Published: 12/14/17
Mikhail Sergachev earning trust – and more minutes with Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev earning trust – and more minutes with Lightning

Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the Lightning defenseman.They both were picked in the top-10 of the 2016 NHL Draft, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other in three w...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top goalie in the leag...
Published: 12/13/17
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Published: 12/13/17