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Lightning pregame: John Tortorella says Columbus can’t be intimidated by Tampa Bay

Former Lightning coach’s gameplan sounds a lot like, ‘Safe is Death’
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella says his team must be ready to match the Lightning. [AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar]
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella says his team must be ready to match the Lightning. [AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar]
Published Feb. 18, 2019
Updated Feb. 18, 2019
Related: Up Next: at Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m., Tonight | TV/Radio: NBCSN, AM-970

COLUMBUS— John Tortorella figures the way to beat the Lightning is to take the game to Tampa Bay.

“The biggest thing in my mind: You can’t play against this team on your heels, worried about what’s going to happen,” the Columbus coach said after Monday’s morning skate.

The Lightning has beaten the Blue Jackets twice, 8-2 on Oct. 13 and 4-0 on Jan. 8. But Tortorella pointed out, Tampa Bay has had just about everyone’s number.

“The record they have, they deserve, but you can’t be intimidated by it,” he said. “You need to be aggressive, you need to go at them. If you’re a little nervous through the neutral zone, or you’re worried about their speed, you’re killing yourself. You just have to go after it.”

The Lightning has largely dictated play against the Blue Jackets this year, but Columbus has had moments in each game. In the January game, Columbus largely owned the second period, but didn’t score.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper isn’t expecting another of those high-scoring fares, though. Columbus is on a roll with five wins in the last six games, and Cooper repeated his emphasis on how games tighten up this time of year.

The lineup

Based on morning skate, Jon Cooper is sticking with the lineup that has been working for the Lightning.

Braydon Coburn rotates back in and Anton Stralman will sit among the defensemen. Other than that, the lines and d-pairs looked unchanged.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first goalie off the ice, an indication he is the likely starter

Forward lines:

Palat-Stamkos-Johnson

Gourde-Point-Kucherov

Killorn-Cirelli-Miller

Erne-Paquette-Joseph

Defensemen pairings:

Hedman Girardi

McDonagh-Cernak

Coburn-Sergachev