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Injured Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos says he will be ready to play

15

March

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos, who sustained a lower back contusion in Sunday's game with the Penguins, said he likely will be ready to play in Tuesday's game with the Coyotes.

Stamkos, who has a team-best 42 goals, said he had an uncomfortable night trying to find a comfortable position so that he could sleep, seemed a lot loose walking the hallways of the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday.

"I think I'll be good to go tomorrow," he said.

Stamkos was hit in the game's first shift by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik as he was taking a shot. The check knocked Stamkos down and he slid into the boards. He finished the game, but as coach Rick Tocchet said, "He gutted it out. I was proud of him."

Stamkos said he will make a final determination at Tuesday's morning skate. Because the contusion is more on the left side of his back and also on his upper gluteus, he said his left side and left leg are most affected.

"It's just kind of like stopping and starting and getting it back up to gear, that's where you really feel it," Stamkos said. "Once you get out there during play, your mind is on something else. It's the physical contact and the stopping and getting back up to the fast game."

Adding to the concern is the uncertainty of what exactly is ailing Marty St. Louis. The left wing said it is nothing more than the usual bumps and bruises.

"I don't think it's something that should affect my play down the stretch," he said.

Even so, losing Stamkos would put more pressure on a team facing another must-win Tuesday against Phoenix after falling 2-1 to the Penguins in a game in which the Lightning went more than 23 minutes without a shot. And even though it seems as if Vinny Lecavalier is heating up with five goals in six games, Tocchet said, "We've got to find scoring. We've got to find that goal. Whatever the way to put that puck in the net, you've got to do it. We've got to find a way to get second goals, those around the net goals. We've just got to find them. It's crucial." 

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 12:15am]

    

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