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Tampa Bay Lightning

2 Fights Show Off Bolts' Grit, Tenacity

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: May 20, 2013 at 03:34 PM
TAMPA -

Coach Rick Tocchet wanted to see more grit and tenacity from his team Wednesday night against the Rangers after Sunday's lethargic no-show against the Devils.

He got it, among other things, in the form of two vintage hockey fights and another scuffle.

Rookie Steven Stamkos, the NHL's No. 1 overall pick, cut loose with his first NHL fisticuffs in the first period after hammering Nikolai Zherdev along the near boards. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Stamkos won the fight.

In the second period, newly reacquired enforcer David Koci got into a war with Colton Orr in which the Tampa Bay wing landed several hard rights. The fight ended after Orr had his jersey pulled over his head and the 6-6, 238-pound Koci delivered another punishing right.

A precipitating incident to the Koci-Orr confrontation occurred in the first period. Orr somehow avoided an instigating penalty after he jumped on Evgeny Artyukhin after a seemingly clean hit on Blair Betts.

After their dismal showing against New Jersey, the Lightning hit harder, skated harder and looked like a different team.

Tocchet had harped on the need for more aggressiveness - both overall and with the team's woeful power play. After Wednesday's morning skate, he threatened benchings.

"We're getting to the point now where we're going to have to change personnel, and whoever is going to the net, we're going to start putting it in," he said. "Power play is something we have to get some urgency to our team with."

Tampa Bay entered Wednesday ranked 24th overall (14.9 percent) and last at home (10.6 percent) in the power play. Tocchet has emphasized the need to get more skating in front of the net and is working on a template to grade players in that category.

TWO BACK, ANOTHER OUT: The Lightning got top G Mike Smith and D Lukas Krajicek back but had to play without LW Matt Pettinger.

Pettinger twisted his right knee Tuesday when his skate caught a rut in the ice during a drill with Andrej Meszaros. He had increased soreness Wednesday and the team sent him for an MRI, the results of which were not disclosed.

Smith was held out of Sunday's game with a nagging lower-body injury but could have played. Krajicek missed the Jersey game after bruising the meniscus in his left knee after his leg was fallen on twice during the previous game against Nashville.

Chris Gratton and Gary Roberts remained on injured reserve, although both participated in the morning skate.

GETTING A CHANCE: Pettinger's injury created a playing opportunity for Koci, who was claimed off waivers from St. Louis last week and began his second stint with the Lightning this season.

A native of Prague, Czech Republic, Koci had racked up 169 penalty minutes with no points in 32 career games entering Wednesday.

EASING IN: Mike Sullivan, rehired Tuesday as associate coach, watched the game from the press box. He'll assume his new duties running the defense and penalty kill Friday at Minnesota.

Tony Fabrizio

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