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Slumping 'Triplets' line not worrying Cooper

Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn't have any concerns over the Triplets line of C Tyler Johnson, RW Nikita Kucherov and LW Ondrej Palat, pictured. [Getty Images]
Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn't have any concerns over the Triplets line of C Tyler Johnson, RW Nikita Kucherov and LW Ondrej Palat, pictured. [Getty Images]
Published Jun. 5, 2015

TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn't have any concerns about the "Triplets" line of C Tyler Johnson, RW Nikita Kucherov and LW Ondrej Palat.

The trio combined for only two shots on goal in Wednesday's 2-1 Game 1 loss to the Blackhawks. Kucherov didn't have any. Johnson, the league's postseason leader with 12 goals and 21 points, hasn't scored in the past five games.

Cooper said he's not worried about the line because it has consistently found ways to generate offense. He doesn't expect anything to change now.

"They've proven time and time again, they may be kept off the score sheet a game here, a game there, but you're not going to keep them off for long," Cooper said. "Those kids will find a way."

HEDMAN BITTEN? D Victor Hedman said it felt as if Chicago C Andrew Shaw bit him during a scrum in Wednesday's first period.

Hedman went after RW Patrick Kane behind the net, and Shaw jumped in. After Hedman got to the bench, a TV camera caught him pulling up his jersey, pointing at his left rib area and appearing to tell LW Brenden Morrow, "He bit me."

Asked after the game if Shaw bit him, Hedman replied, "It felt like it. I have a little bruise, so maybe."

The NHL Department of Player Safety reviewed the incident during the game. It said no hearing was scheduled for Shaw and no supplemental discipline was planned.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he didn't know what happened.

PLAYING TIME: C Steven Stamkos' 17:17 minutes of ice time in Game 1 was fifth among Lightning forwards. It was his third-shortest time on the ice in the postseason, excluding games decided by more than two goals. It was four fewer minutes than Chicago top C Jonathan Toews.

Stamkos said he wasn't thinking about his playing time, and Cooper downplayed the issue.

"We don't sit here and say, 'Gosh, if we would have had 'Stammer' on the ice that extra minute, the game would have changed,' " Cooper said. "He's done a (heck) of a job for us. He's led us to where we are. We wouldn't be here without him. I don't think that extra minute, give or take, makes any difference."

DROUIN WATCH: One of Chicago's Game 1 heroes was 20-year-old LW Teuvo Teravainen, a 2012 first-round draft pick who tied the score with a wrist shot with 6:32 left in the game.

The Lightning's touted 20-year-old, LW Jonathan Drouin, was a healthy scratch and has played in only three postseason games. Cooper sees similarities between the skill levels of both players and said he hopes Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, eventually has those kinds of performances for Tampa Bay.

"Jo is a phenomenal player," Cooper said. "Situations like this, do we think it's going to happen eventually? There's no question."

Drouin said during Tuesday's media day that it has been hard to watch his team play without him, but a recent call from his father reminded him to be excited about his first Stanley Cup final.

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BEWARE OF FAKE TICKETS: Lightning officials and Tampa police urged fans to use a secure ticket purchasing site after 21 people were found with fraudulent tickets for Game 1.

Tampa Police Maj. Marc Hamlin said fake tickets are being sold online and on the street. Some are electronic print-outs that don't work. The rule for purchasing tickets on the street is "buyer beware," Hamlin said. "The best thing is to buy them from a reputable agency."

The safest options are the NHL Ticket Exchange and Ticketmaster Plus, which is accessible through Ticketmaster, Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett said.

ICE CHIPS: Chicago D Trevor Van Riemsdyk could be ready to play in Game 2 on Saturday after being sidelined since November because of injuries, Quenneville said.


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