Tampa Bay Lightning

Bolts’ Carle available for Game 5

After saying there’s a chance defenseman Matt Carle could play Game 5 at MSG prior to boarding a flight for New York on Saturday, Lightning coach Jon Cooper was a little more optimistic Sunday morning.

“I think he’s going to be available,” said Cooper.

Carle missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury.

The 30-year-old, who has two assists in 16 playoff games this spring, left Game 3 following a collision with Derek Stepan.

Mark Barberio took Carle’s spot in the lineup in Game 4. The 25-year-old was a minus-1 in 8:44 of ice time.

Puck drop tonight is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

There is a ‘chance’ Matt Carle could play Game 5


Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, who has not played since leaving Game 3 with an undisclosed injury, is improving according to head coach Jon Cooper.

Carle has two assists and a minus-6 rating in 16 playoff games this season while averaging 16:35 in time on ice.

“He’s improving, so we’ll see,” said Cooper of Carle’s Game 5 status. “I guess there is always a chance, but we won’t be able to know. I haven’t seen him today.”

Carle left midway through the first period of the Bolts’ 6-5 overtime win on Wednesday night following a collision with Rangers’ forward Derek Stepan.

Mark Barberio took Carle’s spot in the lineup in Game 4. The 25-year-old was a minus-1 in 8:44 of ice time.

“I would say it’s inconsistent,” said Cooper of his team’s defensive play. “I think when there is long stretches where we’re not giving up anything, and then there is just a flurry. I look at (Friday) night’s game, we didn’t, I consider, give up a ton through the first 45 minutes.

“We gave up a ton in the last 15 minutes.”

Cooper on replacing Bishop: ‘That is asinine to me’


With Ben Bishop allowing five goals in each of his last two starts for the first time since March 2011, Bolts’ head coach Jon Cooper was asked on Saturday whether he’d consider a change in goal ahead of Game 5 Sunday night in New York.

“I understand your question,” Cooper said of a potential change in goal. “For someone to sit here and say, are we changing (in) goal? That is asinine to me.”

Bishop has 5.00 G.A.A. and an .807 save percentage as the Lightning split a pair of games on home ice.

“You never like to give up five goals in back-to-back games, but the best part is we’ve got another game,” said Bishop following Friday’s 5-1 loss.

The 28-year-old has a 3.50 G.A.A. and an .882 save percentage through the first four games of the series.

“He’s a great goaltender and we lean on him a lot, and we expect him to be better as we expect our team to play better,” said defenseman Braydon Coburn.

Added Jason Garrison: “I think he’s probably not happy about that, and I don’t think any of his teammates are really, so collectively as a team we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. You can’t win in the playoffs very much letting those kind of goals up.”

Game 5 goes Sunday night at MSG. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Video: Lightning-Rangers game gets heated in final minutes


With the outcome of the game already decided in favor of the Rangers, Tampa Bay and New York engaged in several skirmishes over the final minutes of play.

The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Cedric Paquette as well as the Rangers’ Tanner Glass were all handed misconducts in the third period while 10 other minor penalties were issued over the span of just 2:25 minutes. You can see all of that below:

That’s the most late-game trouble these two squads have gotten into so far in the Eastern Conference Final and it will be interesting to see if that bleeds into Game 5 on Sunday. One thing is certain: With the series tied at 2-2, the stakes are very high going into that contest.

Video: Slumping Nash charges hard to net, puts Rangers ahead

Rick Nash’s playoff struggles have been an ongoing topic throughout the playoffs. If he makes some more plays like he did in the first period of Game 4, then that storyline will look very dated.

After surrendering six goals in each of their last two games, the Rangers were able to hold the Lightning at bay for the opening period tonight. It was starting to look like this contest would be scoreless through 20 minutes, but Nash accepted a pass from Kevin Hayes and then charged at the net to beat goaltender Ben Bishop one-on-one:

Nash now has three goals in 16 playoff games and eight markers in 57 career postseason contests. Those numbers pale in comparison to what he’s done in the regular season, but if he’s able to heat up, then that could push the Rangers over the top in their series against Tampa Bay.

As it is, New York has its work cut out for it as it seeks to protect the lead and even this series at 2-2.


Vigneault defends Nash, but realizes they need more