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Most of the Lightning took the morning off today after landing in Tampa at this morning following the game in Washington. Doug Janik joined Ryan Craig, Andreas Karlsson, Dan Boyle and assistant coach Mike Sullivan on the ice, signaling that Matt Smaby will likely be in the lineup tonight. Johan Holmqvist will get the start and hopes to improve on his 4-0 home mark.
The Flyers took the morning off as well, and reports in the Philly papers say Antero Nittymaki will get his first start of the season tonight after the Flyers saw their four-game win streak come to an end last night in Sunrise. Star forward Simon Gagne is a question mark for tonight after being knocked dizzy on his first shift against the Panthers. Gagne, who suffered a concussion a few seasons back, didn’t return to the game.
Reflections about last night’s loss in Washington: Paul Ranger continues to develop into a star, recording his first career short-handed goal and adding an assist to raise his point total to eight. In his third NHL season, Ranger has averaged more than 26 minutes of ice time a game in Dan Boyle’s absence and sits tied for fourth in scoring among NHL defensemen.
Marc Denis seemed sharp in his first start of the season, but once again the Lightning couldn’t buy a break on the road. Denis made some important saves and got hung out to dry on a bad line change, but the game-winner off Chris Clark’s knee was another unfortunate bounce for the Lightning.
John Tortorella often says a team needs to create its own breaks, but Clark’s goal continued an unfortunate road trend for the Lightning. Much like the goal Peter Schaefer scored in Boston as he tried to jump out of the way and the puck hit his knee, Clark’s game-winner was an unlucky bounce after Denis had made a nice initial save. I think the lesson to be learned is that good things happen when you charge the net.
It seemed like the Lightning were on track to tie the game after Marty St. Louis’ re-direction in the third made it 4-3, but Olaf Kolzig slammed the door. Jan Hlavac appeared to have the tying goal on his stick, but his wrister from the slot wasn’t high enough to clear Kolzig’s outstretched leg pad.