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Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin can change his story against Wings

The wackiest story ever told is halfway done. All Jonathan Drouin has to do from here is be a star.

For Drouin, who skates into the NHL playoffs Wednesday night with his Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings, it has been a vexing season. He was idle. He was demoted. He was ticked. He left his team. He was suspended. His agents made threats. He was on the trading block, but not enough teams showed enough interest. He was suspended again. He was reinstated. He was promoted. And now, after all of it, he seems to have found a home.

Drouin scored two goals in his last two games, but both of them were on the road. Wednesday, he plays in front of the home crowd.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Drouin told the Tampa Tribune. “Some fans are not happy about it. But I’ve got to respect … I did the stuff … I’ve got to respect their opinion and hopefully it’s a good show.”

Doubtlessly, Drouin probably still believes he was being underused. But with Steven Stamkos out, the Lightning needs the juice in their lineup.

“I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder as well,” Drouin said. “I have stuff to prove and it’s up to me to prove it. All of this. You want to show you deserve being in the NHL. You deserve your shot. I have a lot of stuff to show to the fans, and myself, and my teammates here.”

If Drouin can help with the firepower, perhaps the Lightning can upset the Red Wings even without Stamkos and Anton Stralman. He can make a lot of g.m. Regret not offering more. He can be the talk of the NHL…in a good way.

“I just feel more comfortable,” Drouin said. “This time around, I feel more ready than last year at this time. I didn’t know what to expect from the playoffs in the NHL. This year, I feel way more ready. It’s more of a challenge and I’m ready to attack that right away.”

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Center Tyler Johnson injured as Tampa Bay loses final game to Montreal

Repeat it to yourself: It just didn’t matter.

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Saturday night to Montreal, 5-2, for the third time in its last four games, and it’s fifth time in its last eight, to conclude its regular season. Tampa Bay now proceeds to play Detroit in the playoffs.

The Lightning absorbed more than defeat, however. Center Tyler Johnson was driven into the boards by Greg Pateryn, which left Jon Cooper livid.

“There’s honor and there’s respect, and that kid didn’t show either of them,” Cooper said. “It was egregious. I’m at a loss for what happened. Hopefully, he’ll be okay. That could be career-ending. Of course there is concern. If it had been a playoff game, he wouldn’t have come back.”

Johnson, one of the stars of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago, joins Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and Anton Stralman (fractured fibula) on the injured list for Tampa Bay.

The Bolts fell behind 4-0 in two periods. They came back a bit with two third-period goals by Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.

The Bolts open the Detroit series either Wednesday or Thursday.

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Lightning wins after calling up Jonathan Drouin from minors

Sometimes, the truth is better than fiction. Sometimes, you couldn’t write stuff like this.

Jonathan Drouin, banished to the minors, suspended and almost written off, salvaged his season Thursday night.

Drouin scored the game-winning goal Saturday night in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 3-2 victory over New Jersey. The twice-suspended Drouin, who swore he would never again play for the Bolts, was promoted earlier in the day and scored in a 4-2 victory.

“It wasn’t just the goal,” said coach Jonathan Cooper. “He led our team in shots (four). I thought in the first period, he was getting his feet wet, but as that game went on, he got stronger and stronger. I’m happy for him.”

Ben Bishop stopped 20 shots for his 35th victory of the season.

Eric Condra, Cedric Paquette and Valterri Filppula scored for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay finishes its regular season Saturday night against Montreal.

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Lightning promotes twice-suspended forward Jonathan Drouin

It’s a long way from happily ever after, but Jonathan Drouin is a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning once again.

Under the heading of “things-you-never-thought-you-would-see” is Drouin, who has been suspended twice this season, returning to the parent club. Drouin left the Syracuse Crunch, demanded a trade and was suspended, then returned and was reinstated, then missed a practice and was suspended again.

But the Bolts need firepower in the absence of Steven Stamkos, who just had surgery to repair a blood clot. Especially, their 26th-ranked power play needed help.

Drouin is coming back for the team’s final two games of the season. In 17 games with the Crunch, Drouin has scored 11 goals, five on the power play.

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Lightning blows 2-goal lead, but clinches playoff spot

It doesn’t matter that they backed into playoffs. The way things are going for the Tampa Bay Lightning, they’re happy to be there at all.

Tampa Bay blew a two-goal lead and lost to the New York Rangers Tuesday night, but clinched a post-season berth when the Boston Bruins lost to the Carolina Panthers in a shootout.

The Bolts took a 2-0 lead on goals by Vlad Namestnikov and Brian Boyle. But the Rangers charged back to beat a depleted Tampa Bay lineup, 3-2. Besides Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman, the Lightning played without Victor Hedman and Ryan Callahan. There is no guarantee that either Hedman or Callahan will play in the final two regular-season games.

“It’s good that we are in, but we should have won that game,’’ said Boyle, who scored his second power-play goal in the past three games. “We are not thrilled about the outcome tonight. But step one was to make the playoffs.’’

The Florida Panthers clinched the Atlantic Division with the Lightning loss.

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Lightning’s Ben Bishop suffers an off-night in loss to Islanders

You could blame the defeat on the missing captain, Steven Stamkos. After all, it was only his second game since leaving with a blood clot.

You could blame it on the absence of defenseman Anton Stralman, whose broken fibula kept him out again.

Or, if you prefer, you could blame it on the uncharacteristic play of goaltender Ben Bishop, who was chased from the game after giving up five goals for only the second time all season. Bishop, who entered leading the league with a 2:00 goals against average, let in five in 23 shots against the New York Islanders.

The defeat kept the Bolts’ magic number at one point.

Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman scored for the Bolts, who play the New York Rangers tonight.

“We didn’t think about our net tonight, that was it,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “So when you give up four breakaways in the second period, especially when we have time and possession … and we just stopped shooting the puck. We just wanted to tap it around until it was placed in the net. Then we press and press and press and we are not shooting, ultimately they would get a breakaway and score.

“That was the tough part to watch because they were working their tails off, competing and battling, we just weren’t working smart enough.’’

Bishop was pulled from the game for only the second time all season.

“This is not on Bish, he’s been there for us all year,’’ Ryan Callahan said. “We were just worried about the other side of the net and not our own. When we play like that we are not successful. I think our effort was there, we put pucks to the net and had some chances, but the defensive side of the puck wasn’t good enough tonight.’’

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Lightning loses Steven Stamkos for 1-3 months before home finale

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it is usually about the players on the ice.

This time, it was not.

Hours after finding out that they will be without Steven Stamkos for 1-3 months because of a blood clot in his right arm, the Lightning closed out its home season with a 3-1 victory over New Jersey. However, it was a somber time for the Bolts, who face the possibility of never seeing Stamkos in the uniform that has defined him as a pro.

“Obviously, this situation is extremely disappointing because I wanted to help my team clinch a playoff spot and prepare for the start of the postseason,” Stamkos said in a statement.  “During my recovery I will do all I can to help my teammates, and I hope to rejoin them soon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

The Bolts won without Stamkos and defenseman Anton Stralman, who has a broken leg, on Saturday night. Now, they face having to do it again and again.

Victor Hedman, Bryan Boyle and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning in Saturday night’s win, the team’s 44th of the season.

“I think we did a lot of good thing throughout the whole game,” Victor Hedman said. “Obviously, we weren’t in the penalty box too much in the second period, so we got our legs moving in the third and created a lot of opportunities and got a lot of power plays and created some momentum.”

Ben Bishop had 25 saves on 26 shots.

“We have to continue to progress, continue to work at our game and continue to play with good habits, good structure,” Boyle said. “Those are the things we need to do from here on out and however long the season is going to go. If we want it to go long, we have to be very attentive to detail and make sure everybody knows exactly how we are supposed to play and demand it from each other.”

The Lightning’s magic number is now two. The team plays the Islanders Monday, the Rangers Tuesday and the Devils Thursday.

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Montreal blanks Tampa Bay Lightning in disappointing content

As the playoffs approach, the Tampa Bay Lightning look less and less ready for them.

The Bolts lost a 3-0 game to a Montreal team that has long since been eliminated from the post-season. But the Lightning, too, looks wobbly.

Tampa Bay got off only three shots in the third period, and had a power play when it didn’t get any. Tampa Bay has one more game at home, a Saturday night effort against New Jersey, before finishing the season with a four straight road games.

“We just had too many passengers today,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “We’re at a point in the season that can’t happen. That’s not acceptable. I don’t care who we’re playing. We’re playing the best team in the league, we’re playing the worst team in the league. This is almost go time with the playoffs here.”

“It’s been our Achilles’ heel all season long. When we don’t compete and we don’t stick to the structure and the game play you’re a very beatable team. When you do, it’s special.”

Still, it was the 19th time this season the Lightning have scored one goal, the 37th time they’ve scored two goals or fewer.

“A lot of people talking the talk, not many guys walking the walk,” said goaltender Ben Bishop “We’ve got five games left.”

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1,700 lightning strikes hit Palm Beach County on Tuesday

The National Weather Service says 1,700 lightning bolts crashed from the skies during a two-hour period as storms moved across Palm Beach County.

Meteorologist Robert Molleda tells The Palm Beach Post Tuesday’s lightning show was of a magnitude seen only a few times annually.

During the durations of Tuesday’s storms, about 2,500 lightning strikes were measured in the county.

A lightning strike knocked three Boca Raton firefighters off their feet as they put out a backyard fire that had been ignited by a previous bolt. One of the firefighters was flung about 15 to 20 feet, and began having a seizure. The other two remained conscious. All three have recovered.

Florida ranks tops nationally for the number of cloud-to-ground strikes per square mile, with 1.2 million bolts per year.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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