Lightning Battle Back Into Playoff Position

Mar 15, 2017

By winning Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning moved ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League standings. The two teams will go head-to-head Thursday night.

The Lightning, which was dead-last in its division last just six weeks ago, is now tied for the final "wild card" playoff spot with the New York Islanders.

But only with 13 games left in the regular season, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper remains focused on playing one game at a time.

“To be perfectly honest, we haven't been looking ahead. I was just, 'Who are we playing tonight?'” Cooper said after Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory in Ottawa. “Now, we can sit here and say clearly the Toronto game is a big game for us.”

That's because the Lightning face-off next against Toronto on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Amalie Arena.

Despite key injuries and relying on rookies to fill out the rooster, Cooper said there’s a “play-off savvy” in the locker room.

“But what's really impressed me, everybody, they've just come together as a group and there's kind of that 'never say die' attitude that's going in there.” Cooper said. “Everybody is contributing whether it's a guy winning a face-off, or blocking a shot or scoring the big goal.”

Three of the Lightning’s four centers, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Cedric Paquette, were injured last Thursday in a game that they won against the Minnesota Wild.