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Lightning bitten by the injury bug

By Roger Mooney
Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) attempts to maintain possession moments after falling to the ice during the first period of Saturday's (2/4/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Anaheim Ducks at Amalie Arena in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Four players did not skate for the Lightning at Friday's practice, and coach Jon Cooper indicated afterwards that call-ups from AHL Syracuse will be needed to flush out the roster for Saturday's game against visiting San Jose.

The Lightning did just that, calling up F Cory Conacher late Friday afternoon

D Jake Dotchin, who did not play during the four-game road trip because of an undisclosed injury, did not practice Friday. He was joined on the sidelines by F Ryan Callahan, F Cedric Paquette and D Braydon Coburn.

Paquette will miss Saturday's game because of a one-game suspension for boarding Bruins D Torey Krug during Wednesday's game in Boston.

"There's definitely some maintenance issues going on here," Cooper said when asked about Callahan and Coburn. "Hopefully it's not long term. It may require a couple of call-ups. We'll see."

The Lightning could call up a defense since it is likely Coburn joins Dotchin on the injury list Saturday.

There might be others, as well, with the announcement coming late this afternoon.

"It's going to happen, I'm sure," Cooper said of the injuries. "We've been kind of blessed not going through it the first 20 games or so. It's going to happen. Happens to every team. You just try and manage it. Hopefully it doesn't keep compounding. We can't let it affect the way we play."

Dotchin was seen doing stretching exercises next to the rink during the first part of practice. Cooper said he is doing light skating.

"Hopefully within the next week we get him back," Cooper said.

The Lightning begin a four-game homestand Saturday that also includes games against the Islanders (Tuesday), Avalanche (Thursday) and Jets (Saturday).

The Lightning has dropped four of its last six games, including three of four on the road trip. It remains atop the Atlantic Division with an NHL-high 36 points, though the Maples Leafs are in second place with 35.

The slump began before the Lightning's 3-1 loss at Washington during the first night of the road trip.

"The first period against Chicago. The first period of the Islanders game. You got start looking at things leading up to what happened to us on this road trip," Cooper said. "You never want to be unhappy with a win but we walked out of the Buffalo game (a 2-0 victory) and we weren't even trilled with the way we were playing, so probably bound to happen to us. Hopefully coming back home here will straighten us out."

The Lightning is 9-2-1 at Amalie Arena.