Lightning Strikes (Cristodero)
TAMPA – A few quick notes from today’s morning skate at Amalie Arena:
* Although the Lightning is up 2-0 on the Canadiens and has won all seven meetings this season, Tampa Bay doesn’t sound overconfident.
“We’ve got a good chance to take another step,” defenseman Anton Stralman said. “Don’t let it slip away.”
The Lightning expects Montreal to be desperate tonight, just as the Lightning was desperate when it faced an 0-2 deficit to the Canadiens in last year’s first round.
“We’ve been in that situation before,” center Steven Stamkos said. “You want to give your best effort. This is a huge game for them. I think we realize the magnitude of coming back in front of our home fans…We have to find a way to match it. It’s not going to be easy.”
* Stamkos said the Lightning will need to get more shots against Montreal goalie Carey Price than it did in Game 2. Tampa Bay scored on six of its 24 shots Sunday.
“We can’t expect that clip to continue against a goalie like that,” Stamkos said.
* Coach Jon Cooper and his players said what happens tonight will affect how they approach tomorrow’s Game 4 in the back-to-back situation. Cooper didn’t seem to mind the possibility of starting goalie Ben Bishop in both games; Bishop has only started back-to-back games once this season but would play Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in the American Hockey League.
“This won’t be new,” Cooper said.
Backup Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn’t played since March 31.
TAMPA – Montreal wing Brandon Prust apologized Tuesday for his comments directed toward official Brad Watson after Sunday’s Game 2.
“It was an embarrassment,” Prust said of his actions.
Prust was given 27 penalty minutes in the end of the Lightning’s 6-2 win Sunday, after tripping goalie Ben Bishop and getting in a fight with defenseman Braydon Coburn. Afterward, Prust said Watson provoked him and “tries to play God.”
“I regret what I said,” Prust said after Tuesday’s practice at Amalie Arena. “If I could go back and redo it, I would, but you can’t. We have to live with it and refocus on the road ahead.”
Prust publicly apologized to Watson and said what happened on the ice should have stayed there. He’s also privately apologized to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
“I think he did the right thing,” Therrien said of Prust’s apology.
Prust said he doesn’t expect the incident to carry over into Game 3 on Wednesday night.
“I hope it’s just an honest hockey game,” Prust said, “and we go back to business.”
TAMPA – The Lightning went through its typical morning skate and media availability today before Game 7. A few notes:
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the absence of Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall won’t affect his team’s preparation or game plan.
“For us, it changes nothing,” Cooper said. “Detroit’s going to dress 20 players. My job is to beat the Detroit Red Wings.”
The league announced Kronwall’s suspension for Game 7 on Tuesday night. Kronwall delivered a high hit to wing Nikita Kucherov, with the “significant head contact” coming from Kronwall launching himself into Kucherov.
Kucherov said he feels fine but didn’t say much else about the hit, calling it a league decision.
Cooper said the Lightning will consider using 11 forwards and seven defensemen again. The team is 2-0 when it’s done so this series.
“I think it gives you a different look,” Cooper said. “It gives you different options. I like having the extra defenseman there. I could go down the list of reasons why. It’s not just one.”
Cooper said the Lightning will have 21 players skate during the pre-game warmup and will make a decision on the lineup after that.
One key thing Cooper wants the Lightning to improve upon: Taking fewer penalties.
“We have to be more disciplined,” Cooper said. “We took seven penalties the other day. We’re playing with fire if we do that again.”
Goalie Ben Bishop has consistently said he treats every game the same, and this one is no different. He said he slept fine last night and will try to take his normal pre-game nap. Even though it’s a Game 7, it’s not the exact situation most players always dream about.
“You think about maybe Stanley Cup (finals) Game 7,” Bishop said. “You don’t think about first-round Game 7. It should be a lot of fun.”
"You trying to get out, 'The coach is whining for penalties,' that's not it at all," Cooper said. "I'm sure what's going on in our series is going on in the rest …