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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Relentless Pyatt finds home with Bolts

TAMPA - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher discovered a new name for the area in front of the net which most refer to as the crease or blue paint. "They are going to have to start calling it Pyatt Paint,'' Boucher said. That new moniker refers to Tampa Bay center Tom Pyatt, who enters tonight's game at Philadelphia with three goals in the past two games. All three essentially were scored from the same spot as the previous eight this season – inside the blue paint. "He's Mr. Blue Paint,'' Boucher said.
So, just how does somebody listed at 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds battle his way to the front of the net? "I have to cut through some big defenders sometimes, but I try to sneak in there whenever I can,'' Pyatt said. "I'm a small guy, but I try to get underneath guys and find some open space, look for those rebound chances and the pucks lying around.'' Pyatt signed with the Lightning during the summer as an unrestricted free agent after two somewhat underappreciated seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. In his first year with Tampa Bay, the 25-year-old has shattered his career high with 11 goals and 17 points on the season – his previous bests were two goals and seven points – while averaging more than three minutes more per game than with the Canadiens. His showing with Tampa Bay earned him a two-year contract extension as he as found a fit for his style of play, which isn't flashy but seems to be productive, even if it doesn't show up in the box score. "I think I just fit this team's identity and the system they play here,'' Pyatt said. "They like to play simple hockey and have guys that can skate and I feel I just fit that profile pretty good. I really enjoy playing here and things are working out. I hope to just keep building from it.'' A fifth-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, Pyatt plays the game with the relentless attitude Boucher likes to see out of every player. That was evident at the tail end of Saturday's victory against the New York Islanders as Pyatt tracked down a New York player. Trailing him across the blue line and through the top of the Tampa Bay zone, Pyatt knocked the puck off the player's stick and cleared it out of the zone to protect the one-goal lead. "He is relentless and when you are relentless you are bound to do good things,'' Boucher said. "And when you are relentless you are consistent in what you bring to the table and I think that's what you get with Tom Pyatt.''

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835

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