TAMPA— D Victor Hedman said before this playoff series he wanted to play more minutes.
And the Lightning has granted him his wish. Hedman logged 30:02 in Tuesday's Game 4 win against the Red Wings, just the third time in his career he had played more than 30 minutes.
"He's our horse back there," coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't think we're the only team in the league that plays guys that amount of minutes. Especially with (Anton) Stralman out, Hedman has to carry more of the load. You look at some of the gifted players in the league that can do this, the Ryan Suters (Wild), the Duncan Keiths (Blackhawks), the Drew Doughtys (Kings), for some reason they've got another oxygen tank hidden in their bodies somewhere they can pull it off. 'Heddy' is one of those guys. Once again he was really big for us."
Hedman averaged 23 minutes during the regular season and went over 26 only six times. But Hedman played 28:56 in Game 1 of the first-round series against Detroit and 26 minutes in Game 3. Hedman played a team-high 25:30 in Thursday's series-clinching 1-0 win in Game 5.
The only other games in which he has played 30 minutes were overtime games, Game 2 against Montreal in the playoffs last year (career-high 31:32) and 30:45 against Boston in March.
Hedman said the key is hydrating between games and shortening his shifts, keeping them between 40 and 50 seconds if he can. "I feel like I can play my game," he said. "Obviously it's a little more challenging, but it's something I said earlier I want to do."
TAORMINA'S HOMECOMING: D Matt Taormina grew up 45 minutes from Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, so his playoff debut in Game 4 served as a homecoming for the Warren, Mich., native.
"I can't really put it into words, how I was feeling and how my parents felt watching the game," said Taormina, whose family had season tickets to the Red Wings when he was younger. "It was just an unbelievable experience."
Unbelievable but challenging. He played only four shifts and had 2:39 of ice time, so it was hard for him to get into a rhythm, though Cooper said Taormina "did everything we asked of him." Taormina said that little ice time provided a taste of playoff hockey and gave him enough time to savor the moment.
"You're used to being in the stands watching that, seeing all the games," Taormina said. "You kind of take it all in a little bit, but when your name's called, you've got to set it aside and just go."
johnson sick: C Tyler Johnson played only three shifts in the second period and appeared on the ice for 2:19. He returned to start the third. Cooper indicated he was sick. "Something is going through" the locker room and the Lightning needs to "get healthy," Cooper said.
TRIPLETS 2.0: After recording zero shots and only three shot attempts in Game 3, Johnson's line heated back up in Game 4. Johnson, LW Alex Killorn and RW Nikita Kucherov combined for 14 shots (plus seven more attempts) after regaining its focus and effort. "I think just our intensity (was different)," Johnson said. "I thought in Game 4, we worked a lot harder."
NUTS AND BOLTS: Taormina was scratched for Game 5. RW Erik Condra was in a 12-forward lineup.