Well-timed line shuffling pays dividends for Lightning

TAMPA — With the Lightning going the wrong way in the standings and needing a spark after three losses in their previous four games, coach Jon Cooper shook up their forward lines.

He doesn’t hesitate to adjust his lines when he thinks a change is needed, but Monday night’s shuffling was the most dramatic we’ve seen since even before the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run.

Forward prospect Alex Barre-Boulet was promoted and put on the third line with Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn to form an entirely new line. Blake Coleman moved to the top line to play alongside Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. Steven Stamkos dropped to the second line to play alongside Tyler Johnson and Mathieu Joseph. Barclay Goodrow joined the fourth line with Pat Maroon and Alex Volkov.

The moves paid off in a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes that might have been the Lightning’s best of this young season.

“We played with a lot of urgency,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “We played to our strengths and we didn’t try to generate stuff that wasn’t there. We took what was handed to us and we worked hard for it. So that’s the way it has to be moving forward.”

The Lightning (11-4-1 and third in the Central Division with 23 points) entered the game struggling in a lot of ways. The offense had run stagnant, particularly against the Hurricanes. It hadn’t scored in two previous meetings against…

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