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Saturday, Sep 23, 2017
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Bolts Notes: Vinik pushing to host big NHL events

— Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has been urging the NHL to grant the city of Tampa either an NHL All-Star Game or an NHL Entry Draft but he just can’t seem to win the league over.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said during a stop in Tampa for Game 2 of the Lightning’s first-round Stanley Cup playoff series that he is well aware of Vinik’s interest, but can do little about it at this time.

“Jeff actually vigorously reminded me of his interest (in those events) today when we were chatting, but it’s not something I’m in a position to announce or discuss at this time,’’ Bettman said.

“What Jeff has done here is nothing shor of sensational, but there are lots of teams that also want these events and we have to do the best we can to address all the interest.’’

Don’t look for an outdoor game in the ever-growing NHL Stadium Series to come to Florida anytime soon either. Though the series expanded to Los Angeles la year, Florida presents some logistical issues that make a game here unlikely.

“I thinl the weather in Florida is a little tougher to deal with,’’ Bettman said. “When we played in L.A. the temperature was around 50 degrees when we dropped the puck.

“It could be 70 and humid here, so the weather here is more of an issue. For the Florida teams, intially we will have to look at them as potential visiting teams in that series.

Slump buster

Lightning RW Teddy Purcell is no stranger to scoring in the clutch. He ranked second on the team in game-winning goals this year with four. Still, the feeling associated with scoring a goal of any kind has become a bit alien to him.

The St. John’s, Newfoundland native entered the playoffs riding one of the worst scoring slumps of his career, a 30-game drought in which he’d produced just two goals, both of which came in the same March 20 game against Ottawa.

Purcell extended the slump to 31 games when he was shut out again in the series opener against Montreal on Wednesday, but Purcell believes a breakout game may not be too far off for him.

“It’s really just a matter of continuing to visualize yourself in those situations and not hold the stick too tight,’’ Purcell said. “As long as you do that, you’re opportunities are going to come.’’

Purcell’s struggles resulted in a demotion to the third line, but he was back on the second line with Valterri Filppula and Ryan Callahan for the start of the second period on Friday, where he’s hoping a fresh start here in the playoffs will result in a change of fortune.

“It’s always a tough season when you don’t produce the way you’d like to but we’ve been winning and my confidence is still there,’’ he said. “All you need sometimes is that one bounce to get (that scoring touch) back.’’

TV Black out

Due to what Fox Sports Florida officials described as “a mistake at master control,’’ the beginning of Friday night’s game was not available on Brighthouse Networks. The feed finally became available with about 24 seconds remaining in the first period.

“We take great pride on delivering the very best Lightning broadcast year round, & tonight, we fell short of that,’’ Fox Sports wrote in a Twitter message. “From all of us at FOX, we sincerely apologize and promise we will the take the steps necessary to ensure that this does not happen again’’

Chewed out

Cooper’s habit if chewing bubble gum during games has quickly become a secondary story line for many of the approximately 200 media members credentialed for this series.

Cooper was asked again on Friday about the habit and admitted it has become rooted largely in superstition.

“I’ve been chewing gum on the bench ever since I got into coaching,’’ he said. “One piece goes in at the beginning and it stays in the rest of the game. So by the time you get deep into overtime it gets pretty hard to chew.’’

Sustr ready

After being a healthy scratch in Game 1, Sustr said he is ready to go if he’s called on, whether that’s Friday night or at any other point during the series. The 6-foot-7 defenseman said he noticed a difference between regular-season games and playoff games after watching Game 1 from the seats.

“Watching the games live, you notice the intensity and there are not many checks that don’t get finished,’’ Sustr said. “So just the speed and intensity is probably going to be the biggest thing, but after that, it’s just hockey.’’

Kostka makes it through

D Mike Kostka enjoyed making it through a full playoff game on Wednesday, even picking up an assist on Tampa Bay’s second goal.

Kostka played for Toronto last season and appeared in Game 1 against Boston, but suffered a broken finger in the first period and missed the rest of the series.

“I had a bitter taste in my mouth last year for a couple of reasons,’’ Kostka said. “But it was good to get the first full one under my belt without having to play through an injury.’’

Roy Cummings, Erik Erlendsson

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