TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper ruled out star center Brayden Point for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
Point is still working his way back from a lower-body injury sustained in Game 7 of the opening-round series against the Maple Leafs. He participated in Monday’s optional practice, working with assistant coach Jeff Halpern in a small group on his skating and quick maneuvers with the puck on his stick.
He wiped out while making a turn at the cone on one of the run-throughs but completed the drill at a slower speed on the next run.
Point returned to the ice in pads for the first time before Game 1 of the conference final last week in New York City. Cooper said at the time that it would be “hard to say” if Point would return to the lineup at any point during the conference final. Since then, Point has skated almost daily.
Tuesday’s game will be the eighth Point has missed with the injury. He had four points, including two goals, in the first round.
Cooper pleased with Nash’s debut
In Sunday’s Game 3 win, the Lightning used a traditional lineup of 12 forwards and six defensemen for the first time since the opening round. Riley Nash joined the fourth line with Pat Maroon and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, while defenseman Cal Foote was a healthy scratch.
Nash had two shots on goal in 5:29 in his first action of the postseason. He was penalized for goaltender interference on New York’s Igor Shesterkin during the second period, leading to a power-play goal from Chris Kreider.
“Riley’s been prepping for that this whole playoffs,” Cooper said. “I don’t think anybody realizes how hard it is ... and then to come in in the middle of June and have to be under that spotlight and perform.
“I know he takes that goalie-interference penalty, but if that puck doesn’t go on his feet, he probably doesn’t. ... He was as sick as anybody ... but he did everything we asked, and that’s what you need from guys, to stay not only in game shape, but in mental shape. And good on him. That’s why you have pros like that around.”
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Cooper said the team returned to a 12-6 lineup because the adjusted lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen didn’t work in the first two games of the series, both losses. Another key was having the last change on home ice, getting to determine matchups during stoppages in play.
“The matchups help, you get to dictate the last change, but for me, we’ve done 11-7 a ton and we’ve done it at home and on the road,” Cooper said. “But I think when you get into the matchups, to have the 12th (forward) at home, it kind of felt like a fit for us. And for one night, it worked.”
Cirelli finishes fifth in Selke voting
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli finished fifth in voting for the Selke Trophy by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The award goes to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
The Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron won the award for the fifth time in his career, a new league record. Bergeron, who ranked first in the NHL in nearly every defensive metric, received 160 of 195 first-place votes.
The Flames’ Elias Lindholm finished second, followed by the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly and Cirelli, who received 28 second-place votes.
Cirelli received two fourth-place votes and one fifth among the 100 ballots cast last season. He finished fourth in the voting in 2020, including 13 first-place votes.
How the Times’ PHWA members voted:
Eduardo A. Encina: Bergeron, Elias Lindholm, Cirelli, Anze Kopitar, Ryan O’Reilly
Mari Faiello: Bergeron, Lindholm, Aleksander Barkov, O’Reilly, Phillip Danault
Game 1 – Lightning at Rangers, 6-2 loss
Game 2 - Lightning at Rangers, 3-2 loss
Game 3 – Rangers at Lightning, 3-2 win (Rangers lead series 2-1)
Game 4 – Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. Tuesday
Game 5 – Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. Thursday
Game 6 – Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. Saturday *if necessary
Game 7 – Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14 *if necessary
Radio: All games 970-AM
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