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Tampa Bay Lightning

After Clinching, Lightning Focus On Next Task

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 11:38 AM / News
By Missy Zielinski  - Lightning Beat Reporter
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After Clinching, Lightning Focus On Next Task
With a playoff berth in hand, the Lightning returned to practice with home ice advantage in the first round as the main focus

Less than 24 hours removed from clinching a playoff berth, the Tampa Bay Lightning skipped the champagne celebration and returned to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to prepare for the final six games of their regular season schedule.

"We're not satisfied yet," Victor Hedman said.

"We still want to be in a position where we can control our fate," Steven Stamkos said.

That position the Bolts are in now after they leap-frogged the Montreal Canadiens for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division, would be to have home ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.

"If it comes down to seven games, playing in front of your fans is probably the best feeling," Hedman said.

The Bolts felt Tuesday's win against the Habs was a perfect example of how a little extra confidence from playing at home can go a long way once the playoffs come around.

SHORTHANDED SUCCESS

With no shorthanded goals recorded in 2012-13, the Bolts tallied their 10th of the kind, also the game-winner, on Tuesday.

"We want to be aggressive on our penalty kill," Hedman said. "We have speedy forwards, especially [Tyler] Johnson, and it's been a big emphasis."

Head coach Jon Cooper said having offensive success on the penalty kill can get into the minds of their opponents' power play units.

"It's something their power play now has to think about," Cooper said. "They may have to alter the way their power play works."

Tuesday's shorthanded tally came from Johnson, who is now tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals (Brad Marchand). According to Elias Sports Bureau the only other NHL player to accomplish the feat was Dennis Maruk for the California Golden Seals in 1975-76.

The goal was also his 23rd of the season, which ties him for the franchise rookie record for goals with Stamkos.

THOUGHTS ON KOSTKA HIT

Cooper reported that Michael Kostka was doing well since being diagnosed with a concussion Wednesday.

With a chance to finally see the replay of the hit Cooper still did not believe Douglas Murray's hit on Kostka was intentional.

"I think it was a guy who was going to miss his hit and was going to avoid missing it by any means possible," Cooper said. "By no means do I think he meant to hurt him, but it's unfortunate because he was playing careless."

Murray doesn't have a history of dirty hits in the NHL and Hedman said after the game Murray felt "very bad" about what happened.

LIGHTNING HONOR PARALYMPIAN

Before Tuesday's game, Paralympic gold medalist Declan Farmer dropped the ceremonial first puck in front of more than 18,000 fans at the Times Forum.

The 16-year-old was the second-youngest member of Team USA and led them in scoring in the sled hockey tournament at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

"I can't really put into words how it felt there," Farmer said. "It was just an awesome feeling."

Farmer started playing in 2007 with the Lightning's sled hockey program. When he witnessed Team USA win a Gold Medal in Vancouver in 2010 he realized he wanted to become a Paralympic athlete.

"The Lightning have given us a lot in Tampa," Farmer said. "To be able to go to the Paralympics and be able to represent the whole area was awesome."

Farmer plans to try out for the 2014-15 USA team this summer to compete in the World Championships in 2015.