Meszaros gets 64 stitches, did not return
Just an update on defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who got hit in the face by Anton Babchuk's slap shot with 20 seconds left in the second period Saturday night. He did not return, as expected, because, as the team explained, the 64 stitches were not done in time. A quick note on Babchuk. He once won the AHL's hardest shot contest. The bloody gash was under Meszaros' nose.
No one is sure if Meszaros will play Sunday at Atlanta. He wants to play, of course. Either way, Tampa Bay is in a bind. Even though Meszaros has struggled lately, it will miss the 24:28 ice time he averaged. But with no one really left on the farm, the expectation is even if Meszaros cannot go, the Lightning will play with either five D or try to get Lukas Krajicek (fingers) to play in a limited role, though that will not be kown till today.
On the up side, Matt Smaby, Vladimir Mihalik and Ty Wishart weren't the worst things on the ice for Tampa Bay. Wishart, in his NHL debut, played 7:53 with a shot and two blocks.
"It's a chance for other guys to step up," left wing Ryan Malone said of using the kids. "When those guys come back healthy, we should be a better team for it. Hopefully, those guys get their opportunity and run with it."
Couple more things: Tampa Bay is 5-17 in one-goal games and is on a 5-for-59 power play streak, 4-for-42 at home. "It's killing us," coach Rick Tocchet said. ... Jussi Jokinen was scratched with what the team said is a lower body injury. He is day to day.