Teddy Purcell hopes playoffs revive game

Published April 16, 2014

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."

It has been a sketchy season for Purcell, 28, who slowly slid down the depth chart and is on a fourth line with C Nate Thompson and Richard Panik.

Purcell has just two goals in his past 31 games, and both came March 20 against the Senators. He has just 13 hits and 12 blocked shots.

"That playoffs I was playing a lot, and our power play was clicking, and I was getting lucky bounces," Purcell said of 2011. "Hopefully you can get a bounce early and you can really feel that confidence, because that was what I was feeding off of."

ADDITIONS: Though coach Jon Cooper did not say it outright, C Valtteri Filppula and LW Ondrej Palat, the Lightning's two top scorers, were expected in the lineup tonight in Game 1 against the Canadiens.

"You saw them out there," Cooper said of practice. "Did they look okay to you?"

Filppula (lower body), tied for the team lead with 25 goals, was hurt Thursday against the Flyers. Palat, with a team-best 59 points, was hurt Friday against the Blue Jackets by a check from defenseman Jack Johnson that included contact with Palat's head.

KEEPING QUIET: G Ben Bishop, who injured his left elbow April 8 against Toronto and is wearing a wire brace, skated but not in full gear. There was no update on his condition.

JUST LIKE HOME: For Lightning C Alex Killorn and D Mark Barberio, both of whom grew up in Montreal's West Island, facing the Canadiens in the playoffs is extra special.

"Really exciting," Killorn said. "A lot of friends and family are going to be watching. I'm not sure how many of them will be rooting for me."

Said Barberio: "I've got some family that still won't change (to cheering for the Lightning)."

Killorn said he'd go to a few Canadiens games a season as a kid and almost always wore the jersey of his favorite player, Saku Koivu, while skating in a nearby park. Barberio said he watched "pretty much every game" on TV with his dad and feels fortunate he could play against his role model, D Andrei Markov.

Both said traveling to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 will be a huge thrill, considering what the town is like at playoff time. "Crazy atmosphere," Killorn said. "The whole town stops."

NO JUICE: The Canadiens have worked hard on a power play that is 0-for-23 in its past eight games. They scored 24 five-on-five goals in that stretch.

"I'm not too worried about it," C Lars Eller told Montreal reporters. "Most of the game is played five-on-five, and we've been getting more goals at even strength lately. We've had a good power play, and we're going to score on the power play, and the floodgates are going to open."

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NO HARM: Not on the agenda, Cooper said, is paying back Canadiens D Douglas Murray, who was suspended for three games after he concussed Tampa Bay D Mike Kostka on April 1 with an elbow to the jaw.

"I don't think anybody is going to be focused on retribution," Cooper said. "It's time to go win hockey games, and Mike came out fine. I'm sure he'll have his head up the next time he tries to dance through there, but there is nothing on our end."

GETTING STARTED: For Cooper, the first five minutes are crucial to getting rid of the Game 1 jitters. The coach said he will play all four lines to give everyone a feel for the game.

"You want that shift to be short," Cooper said. "You want everyone to get a touch (of the puck), get a bump. Once you get that first one, everyone can exhale and go out and play the way we can play."

That strategy changes from the home team to visitor, Cooper said: "I'm sure Montreal says, 'We have to weather the first five minutes.' Tampa is going to come in and say, 'We've go to kick their (butts) in the first five minutes.' "

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.