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Could the Triplets save the Lightning against the Penguins?

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The Tampa Bay Lightning hope they can be saved by the rebirth of the Triplets.

The Triplets’ line dazzled the NHL a year ago, as Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat went through the league in a blur. This year, however, the group has been largely split up because of the team’s scoring woes. Alex Killorn has replaced Palat much of the time, who has played with Steven Stamkos and now Jonathan Drouin.

In Wednesday night’s 4-2 defeat by the Pittsburgh Penguins, however, the line scored both of the Bolts’ goals late as Johnson and Palat found the in one of those too-little, too-late occurenes.

“Same thing as prompted it for two series prior to that,” Coach Jon Cooper said. “I think with a lot of coaches, what happens are adjustments and different things that happen in a game. We’d gone two periods without scoring. We weren’t getting a ton in there. We put those guys back together, and they gave us a little bit of a boost.

“So you’re just looking for different things that work and guys that have a little bit of chemistry together. Fortunately, they do, as well as — you know, they play with other guys as well. But you just can’t — you’ve got to look after the rest of your team as well, and we’re trying not only to get — you think, well, you get Kuch and Johnny going, you know, Palat helped spark that, and you’re just trying to help — you’re just trying to find ways. Because it’s worked with those guys in the past, we wanted to go back to it. I’ve done it a ton during the beginning.

“Something I would consider? Of course I would consider it.’

The Lightning, down 2-1, has been dramatically outshot in all three games.

Cooper said he was not looking for goaltender Ben Bishop to return to play. Stamkos said his situation, too, was unchanged.

Still, Cooper said he believes the Lightning can play with Pittburgh.

“I think being down in the series is being down in a series,” Cooper said. “It really doesn’t matter how, I guess, you get there. The one thing I looked at and said, okay, we’ve won one of these three games. We did take three away from them in the regular season. So it’s not something we’re sitting here saying, oh, we can’t beat this team. We couldn’t beat them in the last two games, and that’s the way we’re looking at it.”

Game time is Friday night at Amalie Arena at 8 p.m.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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