Steven Stamkos said Monday he expects to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s Game 4 at Bell Centre.
Stamkos got tangled up with Montreal forward Brandon Prust late in the second period and fell to the ice. Canadiens D Alexei Yemelin tried to jump over Stamkos, but caught the back of Stamkos’ head as he went by.
Stamkos initially stumbled as he tried to get up before being looked at by head medical trainer Tom Mulligan. Stamkos left the ice and missed the final few minutes of the second period, but returned for the start of the third, picking up his second assist of the game on a late Matt Carle goal.
After Sunday’s game, Stamkos did not state what steps he went through before receiving clearance to return to the ice, but said he felt fine on Monday and didn’t think Yemelin did anything on purpose.
“I’ll be ready to play,’’ Stamkos said. “I was trying to get out of the way (after falling) and he hit me. I didn’t really see it. I don’t think there was any intention or anything, it was just a play that happens in the game.’’
More to dislike
In addition to the disallowed goal in the late stages of the second period on Sunday, there were a few other incidents involving the officiating the Lightning were not happy about.
Stamkos had a potential breakaway opportunity taken away on an offside call, though replays showed Stamkos’ back skate was still behind the blue line when the puck entered the zone. Montreal LW Thomas Vanek snapped his stick over the leg of Tampa Bay D Radko Gudas, but nothing was called.
And twice, including on an icing call against Montreal in the final minute of the second period, Canadiens G Carey Price came over to the bench to get his skates looked at by the training staff, allowing the Montreal players the chance to catch their breath.
“I see Steven Stamkos, one of the greatest goal scorers in the world on a full breakaway get called for an offsides, (the linesmen) sees it differently but I’ll let the court of public opinion decide that one,’’ said coach Jon Cooper. “And I didn’t know that with the icing rule put in, and you can’t change, ... you are allowed to go to the bench and get your skates, at that instance, your skate has a bad edge, and that happens twice in the hockey game.
“Everybody is trying to do their best, but it’s just tough to swallow.’’
Change of rule?
After seeing the potential go-ahead goal taken off the board on Sunday when officials ruled Lightning F Alex Killorn made incidental contact with G Carey Price, there was a question as to whether the play should be reviewable under a coach’s challenge.
“So many rules are put in place to promote goal scoring,’’ Cooper said. “We have to do everything possible to get it right. If we have to slow the game down for an extra minute and a half so our refs can go in the little square thing and then come out to make the call to get it right, so we all digest and think about it before we get it right, instead of just an impulse decision. I feel that this will happen. I think there will be a rule (added) and it’ll be called ‘The Tampa Rule.’”
Though Tampa Bay has seen nearly a dozen players make their playoff debuts during the series, several of those have experience in facing an 0-3 series deficit.
In last year’s Calder Cup final in the American Hockey League, the Lightning’s farm team in Syracuse lost the first three games to Grand Rapids, but rallied to win the next two before eventually falling in six games.
“The way we approached it last year was all we can do is play one game,’’ defenseman Mark Barberio said. “Let’s focus on one game, one period, one shift and win that one game and then think about the next one. You could only play one, you can’t play the whole series. You play the one game, you win that and go on from there. It’s a snowball effect.’’
G Ben Bishop skated on his own for about 20 minutes Monday morning and took some shots, but he is not available for Game 4 and no return date has been set.
“I can’t sit here and say that he would be ready for the rest of the series,’’ Cooper said. “Clearly, we have to extend the series for any hope of that, but every day he is getting closer and closer.’’
The Lightning will host a watch party Tuesday night at Brickhouse, located at 1102 N. Dale Mabry Highway, beginning at 6 p.m. Former Tampa Bay all-star Brian Bradley will be on hand to sign autographs, team prizes will be handed out and the pre- and post-game radio show will be broadcast on 970-AM with Matt Sammon and former Lightning D Jassen Cullimore.