Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer

Damian Cristodero

Damian Cristodero has covered the Lightning for the Tampa Bay Times since 2000. Before that he was the Times' national auto racing reporter, and he also spent a season and a half helping to cover the Rays. His passion, though, is the NHL, and he has covered several Stanley Cup finals and All-Star Games, as well as the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Cristodero grew up on Long Island and worked for Newsday for six years before coming to Florida in 1987. He was the Gannett News Service's Miami-based sportswriter from 1990 to 1994. He joined the Times in 1997.

Phone: (727) 893-8622

Email: cristodero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @LightningTimes

Blog: Lightning Strikes

  1. Teddy Purcell hopes playoffs revive game

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — In 2011, the last time the Lightning was in the playoffs, RW Teddy Purcell was a force with six goals and 17 points in 18 games.

    So after "a grind" of a 2013-14 season that Purcell — with 12 goals and 42 points and minus-3 in 80 games — said "didn't go my way," perhaps the intensity of the postseason is what he needs to shake loose.

    "It's so much easier to get up for games in the playoffs," Purcell said Tuesday. "It's a fun atmosphere."...

    Lightning wing Teddy Purcell had 12 goals and 42 points in 80 regular-season games.
  2. Off-ice life helps Anders Lindback weather struggles

    Lightning Strikes

    On days when things weren't going so well at the rink, Anders Lindback made sure he carved out some quiet time at home to read. The Lightning goaltender said he has a "nice collection" of books and just finished Lone Survivor, about a Navy SEAL who was the only member of his squad to survive a mission in Afghanistan. When not reading, Lindback might strum a little guitar or go fishing. The idea was to make sure his job — and lack of success for much of the season — did not overwhelm him and stayed at the rink. "That's only going to take you down more," Lindback said of constantly worrying. "It's hard to be all emotional during a long stretch of the season. Better — even though it's hard sometimes — to stay in the middle." That is why Lindback speaks mildly about his recent success and how it could not have come at a better time. Because if No. 1 Ben Bishop, out three games with a left elbow injury, is not ready, Lindback will backstop Tampa Bay's first-round playoff series against the Canadiens that begins tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "When you get an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it," he said. "But it's one thing to play a couple of good games. It's another to have a season like Ben's. That's really the way I want to get to one day."...

    Anders Lindback is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, a .975 save percentage and saves on 77 of 79 shots since taking over for injured Ben Bishop.
  3. 'Crazy' year has rewards for Steven Stamkos

    Lightning Strikes

    For Steven Stamkos, the bottom line always was, as he said, "getting back to playing with the guys." Yes, playing for Canada at February's Olympics would have been terrific. But ultimately, the Lightning captain said, his main concern, after breaking his right tibia in a Nov. 11 game at Boston, was getting back on the ice to help the team make the playoffs. That is why Tampa Bay's first postseason appearance since 2011, and only its second since 2007, is so rewarding. "I always talk about when we were in (the playoffs) a couple of years ago, how that was the most fun a lot of us had playing hockey in our lives," Stamkos said. Stamkos, 24, despite missing 45 games, tied for the team lead with 25 goals, including 11 in 20 games after resuming his season March 6 with a titanium rod in his leg. He took a few minutes recently at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to reflect on a tumultuous season that included the trade of friend and mentor Marty St. Louis to the Rangers:...

    Steven Stamkos swats the puck out of the air to score against Senators goalie Robin Lehner in March after returning from a broken right leg.
  4. Anders Lindback is NHL's first star of the week

    Blog

    Anders Lindback is the NHL's first star of the week ending Sunday. The Lightning goaltender was 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage and a shutout.

    Here is the announcement from the league:

    Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback, Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson and Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending April 13.

    FIRST STAR – ANDERS LINDBACK, G, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

        Lindback posted a 3-0-0 record with a 0.67 goals-against
    average, .975 save percentage and one shutout to help the Lightning
    (46-27-9, 101 points) earn four consecutive victories and clinch home-ice
    advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Montreal
    Canadiens. He stopped all 25 shots he faced in relief of Ben Bishop in a
    3-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs April 8. Lindback then made 34 saves
    in a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers April 10. He capped the week
    by recording 18 saves, and denying all three attempts he faced in the
    shootout, to pick up his third career shutout and first since Dec. 13,
    2010, in a 1-0 triumph over the Washington Capitals April 13. The
    25-year-old native of Gävle, Sweden, appeared in 23 games this season,
    compiling an 8-12-2 record with a 2.90 goals-against average and .891 save
    percentage.

    SECOND STAR – JOHN GIBSON, G, ANAHEIM DUCKS

        Gibson went 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average, .954 save
    percentage and one shutout to help the Ducks (54-20-8, 116 points) post
    four consecutive victories and clinch the top seed in the Western
    Conference for the first time in franchise history. He made 18 saves in a
    3-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks April 7, becoming the first goaltender
    to record a shutout in his NHL debut since April 1, 2009 (Al Montoya).
    Gibson then stopped 36 shots in a 5-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks
    April 9, helping the Ducks clinch their second consecutive Pacific Division
    title and the third in franchise history. He closed the week with 29 saves,
    including 12 in the third period, in a 3-2 overtime victory over the
    Colorado Avalanche April 13. The 20-year-old native of Pittsburgh was
    selected by the Ducks in second round (39th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft
    and helped the team set franchise records for wins (54) and points (116)
    this season.

    THIRD STAR – RYAN JOHANSEN, C, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

        Johansen tied for third in the NHL with six points (2-4—6), finding
    the scoresheet in four consecutive games to help the Blue Jackets (43-32-7,
    93 points) clinch their second playoff berth in franchise history
    (2008-09). He registered 1-1—2, including the winning goal at 3:33 of
    overtime, in a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes April 8. Johansen then
    posted an assist in each of the next two games: a 3-1 triumph over the
    Dallas Stars April 9 and a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning April 11. He
    closed the season with 1-1—2, including his fifth game-winning goal and
    16th multi-point performance, in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers
    April 12. The 21-year-old native of Vancouver played in all 82 games this
    season, leading the Blue Jackets and posting career highs in goals (33),
    assists (30) and points (63)....

    Anders Lindback was 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .975 save percentage and a shutout this past week.
  5. Jon Cooper: Ryan Malone feels embarrassed

    Lightning Strikes

    WASHINGTON — Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he spoke to Ryan Malone and described the left wing as "probably a little embarrassed about what has gone on." But Cooper said the episode in which Malone early Saturday was arrested in Tampa and charged with DUI and cocaine possession will not distract the team as it enters the playoffs.

    "Hockeywise we've had way more distractions worse than this one," Cooper said Sunday. "This is more of a life issue, more a friend of ours who we know is physically doing okay and hopefully the worst is over. As for hockey, this won't be a distraction at all for us."...

  6. Lightning-Canadiens playoff schedule (updated with TV)

    Blog

    Here is the schedule for the Lightning and Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs:

    April 16: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Sun Sports, CNBC

    April 18: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Florida, CNBC

    April 20: at Montreal, 7 p.m., Sun Sports, NBC Sports Network

    April 22: at Montreal, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Florida, NHL Network

    *April 24: at Tampa, 7 p.m., Sun Sports

    *April 27: at Montreal, Sun Sports...

    Lightning forward Alex Killorn tries to get a puck past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
  7. Lightning wins finale over Capitals, gets home ice for first round

    Lightning Strikes

    WASHINGTON — As the back-door play developed for the Capitals during a second-period power play and sharpshooter Nicklas Backstrom redirected the puck at what appeared to be an open net, all Lightning coach Jon Cooper could do was hope.

    "You're gasping, 'Please get across there,' " Cooper said.

    And goaltender Anders Lindback did just that, stretching his right leg to make an improbable save....

    Anders Lindback, left, prepares for a hug from captain Steven Stamkos after not allowing a goal in the shootout against the Capitals. Lindback has three wins and stopped 77 of 79 shots since taking over the starter’s duties last week.
  8. Jon Cooper's novel approach to home-ice advantage

    Blog

    The Lightning's season finale Sunday at Washington will determine whether Tampa Bay gets home-ice advantage in its first-round playoff series with the Canadiens.

    For Lightning coach Jon Cooper, home ice is most important when it comes to hosting a Game 7.

    But what if the team with the advantage was forced to play on the road in Game 7? That is what Cooper suggested in a novel approach to how a seven-game playoff series should be structured....

  9. Lightning controls home-ice fate

    Lightning Strikes

    WASHINGTON — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos still wonders what would have happened if Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference final against the Bruins would have been played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

    Not that the outcome — a 1-0 Boston victory at TD Garden — would have necessarily been different. It's just that "it would have been nice to have that game in Tampa."

    "It is called home-ice advantage for a reason," Stamkos said....

    The Lightning reflects after losing Game 7 of the 2011 East final in Boston. “It would have been nice to have that game in Tampa,” Steven Stamkos says.
  10. Lightning Nuts & Bolts

    Lightning Strikes

    30 seconds with …

    G Kristers Gudlevskis

    Best thing you can cook: Potato pancakes and salad

    Favorite TV show: Family Guy

    Band you'd like to play with: Arctic Monkeys

    Music you're embarrassed you like: I listen to a couple of songs of country music.

    Celebrity crush: Jennifer Aniston

    Montreal mystique...

    Dirk Shadd   |   Times
  11. Top Lightning contenders for NHL awards

    Lightning Strikes

    The NHL regular season ends today, and that means voting for the league's annual awards is underway. The Lightning should have several members of the organization under consideration.

    Here is a quick look:

    Calder Trophy (top rookie): Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon is the favorite, but those who have watched the Lightning know how good left wing Ondrej Palat has been. His 59 points lead the team and entering Saturday were second in the league to MacKinnon's 63. His plus-32 led all rookies, and whereas MacKinnon does not play on the penalty kill, Palat plays in all situations. ...

  12. Lightning-Capitals preview

    Lightning Strikes

  13. Lightning's Ryan Malone arrested on DUI, cocaine charges

    Lightning Strikes

    Lightning left wing Ryan Malone was arrested early Saturday in Tampa and charged with driving under the influence and cocaine possession.

    Malone was released from Hillsborough County jail on $2,500 bond but did not travel with the team to Washington for today's regular-season finale with the Capitals.

    General manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement that he was aware of the situation but could not comment further....

    Wing Ryan Malone has had a rough season on the ice. He has 15 points in 57 games and recently has been a healthy scratch.
  14. Ryan Malone arrested on DUI, cocaine charges

    Blog

    Lightning left wing Ryan Malone was arrested Saturday morning on charges of driving under the influence and cocaine possession.

    "We are aware of the situation concerning Ryan Malone this morning," general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. "Ryan will not travel with the team to Washington today, but beyond that we cannot comment further at this time."

    Malone, 34, was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Suburban at 3:19 a.m. when he made a left turn on to W Platt Street from the center lane of S Armenia Avenue, Tampa Police said....

  15. Lightning edges Blue Jackets

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper began his postgame meeting with reporters with this:

    "Okay, zero questions about injuries. Let's go from there."

    But injuries were a major story in Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets in the regular-season home finale at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

    Bigger than a three-goal second period, Eric Brewer's two goals and the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs....

    Defenseman Eric Brewer skates away after one of his two second-period goals against Curtis McElhinney.