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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lindback earns praise despite suffering loss

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PITTSBURGH — Playing time for G Anders Lindback has been few and far between in recent games.

Some of that is based on the play of No. 1 G Ben Bishop, some of that is from Lindback’s play when he has been in net.

So in some ways, getting the start against Pittsburgh was an opportunity for Lindback to gain confidence in himself as well as from the coaching staff in the event he’s called on down the stretch or in the postseason. His stat line from Saturday’s game against the Penguins – four goals allowed on 29 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss – won’t accurately reflect his performance.

“I was really happy with the way our goaltender played,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “You want your goaltender to give you a chance to win and I thought he gave us a chance to win. The box score is going to say he gave up four, but I can’t sit here and say that any goaltender would have had any of those (goals), they are big time plays.’’

The setback, however, dropped Lindback’s record to 5-12-2 with a 3.26 goals against average and .878 save percentage, which is last in the league among goaltenders with at least 20 appearances. And though he is used to sitting for prolonged periods of time while serving as the backup to Pekka Rinne in Nashville for two seasons, he knows that when he gets the chance to play he has to perform.

“I know that I have to take advantage of the few chances that I get, and unfortunately I didn’t win today,’’ Lindback said. “With the way (Bishop) has been playing it’s hard for me to get in there. So each opportunity to play is an opportunity to prove myself. It’s important.’’

And even if others were offering Lindback a pat on the back for Saturday’s effort, he didn’t want to say it was something he felt he could build upon.

“It’s not a win, it’s not winning and I didn’t do my job,’’ Lindback said.

Turning heads

LW Ondrej Palat continues to impress down the stretch as the rookie came through in the clutch late in Saturday’s game with the tying goal with 1:22 left in regulation to help get the game to overtime. And he did it in spectacular fashion, racing up the ice with the puck, splitting between D Olli Maata and LW Chris Kunitz before cutting to the net and lifting the puck over G Jeff Zatkoff.

“He got us a point, that was pretty clutch,’’ C Valtteri Filppula said. “He’s fun to play with and fun to watch.’’

Palat saw the opportunity to catch the Penguins’ players coming on during a line change and charged his way up the ice.

“I saw their D was back and didn’t have a lot of speed, so I just went around him,’’ said Palat, who has points in seven of the past eight games.

New heights

Filppula picked up his 24th goal of the season on Saturday, sending a one-timer off a feed from Steven Stamkos for a power play marker, establishing a new career high originally set in 2011-12 with Detroit.

“You always want to play better than you have in years before,’’ Filppula said. “And if things are going well, you are going to have points, so that’s nice.’’

Heating up

C Steven Stamkos picked up a goal and an assist on Saturday to give him four multi-point games in the past six games and has six goals and nine points in that same span. With his goal on Saturday the team captain reached the 20 goal mark for the sixth consecutive season, and hit the mark this year in his 26th game of the season after he missed nearly four months with a broken leg.

Nuts and Bolts

Tampa Bay scratched D Keith Aulie, D Mark Barberio, RW B.J. Crombeen and RW Nikita Kucherov. ... Recently signed C Cody Kunyk was officially added to the roster and listed as a scratch on Saturday. The free agent from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks is expected to join the team ahead of Monday’s game against Ottawa. ... Tampa Bay has a power play goal in four consecutive games. ... The Lightning allowed three power play goals in a game for the fifth time this season, twice to Pittsburgh.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com

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twitter: @erlendssonTBO

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