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Bishop leaves morning skate in pain, says he will be okay

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop left the ice prematurely during the morning skate after being hit in the hand with a shot. Coach Jon Cooper said he believed Bishop is okay, and Bishop on his way out of the building said he same.

Anders Lindback was supposed to get the start tonight against the Flyers anyway, Cooper said, no no plans had to be changed.

The injury is the latest in a plague of them that lately has hit Tampa Bay. Six off the roster are currently hurt, and left wing Ryan Malone (foot) was put on injured reserve with what is believed to be a chipped bone in his foot, sustained blocking a shot Friday against the Ducks.

If you inlcude defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Brian Lee, Tampa Bay's injured list is up to eight, though defenseman Keith Aulie apparently is available to play. The others are:

Defenseman Radko Gudas (upper body) and forwards Steven Stamkos (leg), Tom Pyatt (collarbone) and Pierre-Cedric Labrie (arm).

At least Cooper is able to keep his sense of humor.

"Stammer gets hurt back-checking. Malone gets hurt blocking a shot. All this defense first is taking our guys down. …

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Could Stamkos be ready for the Olympics? 'If he's 100 percent ... we'll deal with that at that time,' Yzerman says

Assuming a recovery window of three to six months for Lightning star center Steven Stamkos, general manager Steve Yzerman said that "barring any unforseen setbacks, I think it's reasonable to say he could be on the earlier side of that."

Yzerman's comments came after Stamkos met with reporters for the first time since he sustained a broken right tibia in a Nov. 11 game at Boston. Stamkos had surgery and had a titanium rod inserted into the bone. Yzerman said he expects Stamkos to play again this season. He just can't say exactly when.

"We're told it is a very broad range of a recovery period, so it's way too early for anybody to say, 'Oh, he'll be back in X amount of weeks,' but we're cautiously optimistic," Yzerman said.

A three-month recovery would create an interesting decision as that would almost exactly coincide with the start of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. No doubt, Yzerman, the general manager for Team Canda, would love to have Stamkos in the lineup. But Yzerman said he will not rush Stamkos' recovery process. …

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Richards on St. Louis: 'He's a good inspiration'

While Brad Richards hasn't been Lightning teammates with Marty St. Louis for five years, the two former linemates remain close friends.

And Richards, the ex-Lightning star and current Rangers forward, said he's "thrilled" it worked out where he'll be at the Tampa Bay Times Forum tonight when St. Louis gets honored for playing his 1,000th game.

"I still talk to him pretty much weekly on the game and things we're doing, whether it's stick length to how the game is played - we still pick each other's brains," Richards said after today's morning skate. "He's helped me a lot, I still look up to him, and love how he competes. He's a good inspiration to me."

Richards is not surprised about St. Louis' longevity, with the Hart Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion boasting a legendary work ethic. …

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Lecavalier: 'I'm definitely excited about going back to Tampa'

Vinny Lecavalier will be presented with the Community Hero Award at Wednesday's game and will get a video tribute on the Tampa Bay Times Forum scoreboard.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Vinny Lecavalier will be presented with the Community Hero Award at Wednesday's game and will get a video tribute on the Tampa Bay Times Forum scoreboard.

Vinny Lecavalier was in Sunrise on Monday with the Flyers for their game against the Panthers. But the topic of conversation after the morning skate was about returning to Tampa for Wednesday's game with the Lightning, his first game in Tampa since the Lightning bought him out of the final seven years of his contract.

Lecavalier will be presented the Community Hero Award at the game and will get a video tribute on the Tampa Bay Times Forum scoreboard.

Lecavalier has eight goals and 13 points in 18 games for Philadelphia. He and wife Caroline and their three kids have moved to Haddonfield, N.J. But Lecavalier still has his Tampa home, where his parents are living, and said of the area, "It's something special. I'm from Montreal and I love going back there, but Tampa has always been my home. My kids were all born there, my sister's family is there, my parents are there. It definitely feels like home.

Here are some more highlights of what Lecavalier had to say:

On playing in Tampa: "I'm excited to go back and see everything, see my old teammates, my buddies and play hard against them." …

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Kucherov will make NHL debut tonight vs. Rangers

The biggest news today was Lightning star center Steven Stamkos walking around without crutches or a boot, just two weeks removed from breaking his leg.

Stamkos still is unsure when and if he'll be back this season, but he definitely brought a morale boost - and as Marty St. Louis says "a lot of smiles" - in the dressing room.

With Stamkos out, wing Nikita Kucherov was called up from AHL Syracuse to help provide a  much-needed offensive spark.

Kucherov, a 20-year-old Russian, led the Crunch with 13 goals and 24 points in 17 games this season. Coach Jon Cooper said while Kucherov's call-up this early isn't "ideal," the rookie earned his stripes quicker than other guys. And Kucherov will be thrown right into the fire, making his NHL debut tonight against the Rangers on a line with Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn.

"He's another young gun," Cooper said. "He's one of these guys that has that uncanny ability to put the puck in the net...It's like the Brett Hulls, they know where to go on the ice, and they know what to do with the puck. And there's guys that puck doesn't have eyes for, and there's puck has eyes for, and it has eyes when he has it." …

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Kucherov, Korobov recalled from AHL Syracuse

With defenseman Radko Gudas (upper body) and left wing Ryan Malone (foot) questionable for Monday's game with the Rangers, the Lightning on Sunday recalled wing Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Dmitry Korobov from AHL Syracuse.

Kucherov leads the Crunch with 13 goals and 24 points in 17 games. Korobov, who played one game for the Lightning last week before he was returned to Syracuse,  has six assists and is a team-best plus-7 in 15 games.

Gudas was hurt Friday in a first-period fight with Anaheim's Luca Sbisa. Malone was hurt in the same game blocking a shot.

Here is the announcement from the Lightning:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Nikita Kucherov (KOO-chuhr-awv) and defenseman Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. …

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Bishop outstanding but Lightning falls 1-0 to Ducks in overtime

Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf, right, watches the puck go in the net past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop to win the game in overtime.

AP photo

Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf, right, watches the puck go in the net past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop to win the game in overtime.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was an hour after Friday night’s game at the Honda Center that Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop finally emerged from the trainers’ room.

Bishop had outstanding, making a season-most 41 saves in the finale of Tampa Bay’s four-game, west-coast road trip. Dehydrated, he had cramped up and needed intravenous fluids.

Bishop, drinking from a bottle of orange Pedialyte, said he was fine. What hurt more he said was falling 1-0 to the Ducks on Ryan Getzlaf’s goal with 5.2 seconds left in the extra period.

“That is very, very, very frustrating,” Bishop said. “That’s not what we wanted. We wanted two points. It’s not the way you want to end the road trip.”

Especially the way the goal was scored: on a sequence that began with Victor Hedman’s offensive zone giveaway and ended with Tampa Bay’s Richard Panik knocking the puck into the net off Bishop’s glove in a valiant attempt to divert the puck that was slowly sliding toward the goal line.

“I’m pretty sure I got there before it crossed the goal line,” Panik said. “I tried to shoot it away and it hit (Bishop).”

The Lightning (14-8-1) got a point for the regulation tie, its only point on a 0-3-1 road trip. …

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Brett Connolly reassigned to AHL Syracuse

Brett Connolly, in 10 games since he was called up, had one goal and zero assists and was minus-5 despite, for the most part, playing on the first line.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Brett Connolly, in 10 games since he was called up, had one goal and zero assists and was minus-5 despite, for the most part, playing on the first line.

The Lightning on Friday reassigned Brett Connolly to AHL Syracuse, with Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman saying the No. 6 overall pick of the 2010 NHL draft "is just struggling to find his game."

"He's not getting things accomplished," Yzerman said. "We just feel it's better for him to go back and continue in his development."

With forrward Tom Pyatt (collarbone) almost healthy, no one is expected to be called up from Syracuse.

Connolly, in 10 games since he was called up, had one goal and zero assists and was minus-5 despite, for the most part, playing on the first line. He was demoted to the fourth line for Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Sharks.

"He's still young," Yzerman said of the 21-year-old. "We just have to be patient. He's getting better. His attitude is good. He's a good player. It just takes some time."

Connolly's lack of production is somewhat surprising. With 31 goals he was one of Syracuse's best players last season, and he had an outstanding training camp with four goals that tied Steven Stamkos for the team lead.

Asked about what aspects of his game Connolly needs to improve, Yzerman spoke broadly. …

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Lightning is better but not nearly good enough in a 5-1 loss to the Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Here’s the thing about the Lightning’s 5-1 loss to the Sharks Thursday night at the SAP Center:

Tampa Bay coaches and players truly believe that if they stick with the blueprint they followed in which they skated hard, competed hard and created scoring chances, they’re going to break out of a losing streak that has reached three games.

“I’m not sitting here saying we should have won,” coach Jon Cooper said. “But sometimes you have to have a game like this to work your way out of it. If we continue to play the way we did (Thursday) moving forward, we’re going to come out of this.”

That said, some things must straightened out.

The Lightning cannot keep falling behind as it has, and it must start converting some of its scoring chances. It actually outshot the Sharks 37-36, and a first-period power play in which Tampa Bay held the puck for almost the entire two minutes produced three shots but ended with the score still 1-0. …

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Marty St. Louis and Dan Boyle in mutual admiration society

So, there was Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis on one side of the SAP Center on Thursday, praising his former teammate Dan Boyle, who was sitting in the Sharks locker room after the morning skate talking up St. Louis.

St. Louis and Boyle were teammates on Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup team. St. Louis recalled how Boyle was such "a big part of our defense." Boyle, asked about St. Louis playing his 1,000th game Tuesday at Los Angeles, said, "He'll be in the Hall of Fame for sure, and he deserves it."

It was quite a mutual admiration society as the players could not say enough good things about each other.

"I respect him so much," Boyle said of St. Louis. "His accomplishments speak for themselves. He's an amazing hockey player. To see what he's doing still is not surprising to me because I know how hard he works. He's just awesome." …

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Cooper fiddling with lines ahead of Thursday's game with the Sharks in San Jose

After two disappointing games to start a four-game, west-coast road trip -- a 6-3 loss to the Coyotes and a 5-2 loss to the Kings -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper shook up his lines during Wednesday practice.

With Tampa Bay being outshot 31-21 by Los Angeles, Cooper clearly is looking for some offensive energy for Thursday's game with the Sharks in San Jose.

Here is how the line shook out in practice:

Teddy Purcell-Valtteri Filppula-Marty St. Louis

Ryan Malone-Alex Killorn-J.T. Brown

Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Richard Panik

Pierre-Cedric Labrie-Nate Thompson-B.J. Crombeen with Brett Connolly, who had been centering between Killorn and St. Louis, taking turns at wing.

Asked after practice about the lines, Cooper said, "Just trying some different things, getting some different looks. We'll see about (Thursday)."

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Lightning's 5-2 loss to the Kings 'just one of those games'

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar of Yugoslavia battles Lightning center Tyler Johnson for the puck in the second period of Tuesday night's late game in Los Angeles.

Associated Press

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar of Yugoslavia battles Lightning center Tyler Johnson for the puck in the second period of Tuesday night's late game in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — This is when you know it’s not going to be your night: when your opponent losses the puck off his stick and the puck goes in your net anyway, bouncing off a skate and then a leg.

The Kings scored a goal like that against the Lightning Tuesday night, one of the many things that went wrong for Tampa Bay in a 5-2 loss at the Staples Center.

“Just one of those games,” wing Alex Killorn said.

It was the second straight loss for the Lightning (14-7-0), which lost back-to-back games for the first time this season and fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.

It was not a pretty sight.

Tampa Bay was outshot 31-21, including 11-2 in the second period. It allowed a power-play goal and its league-worst fourth shorthanded.

Center Valtteri Filppula scored a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season which matches his output in 41 games last season for the Red Wings. And defenseman Victor Hedman had a goal and two points to give him 100 points in his career.

But other than that, it was a rough night for the Lightning, not the way Marty St. Louis wanted his 1,000th career game to go. …

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Video: Coach Jon Cooper talks about 5-2 loss to Kings

Lightning coach Jon Cooper talks about his team's 5-2 loss to the Kings at the Staples Center. Tampa Bay has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, and fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.

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Korobov makes his NHL debut tonight against the Kings, but who will be scratched?

Jon Cooper was straightforward that Andrej Sustr, pictured, will come out on defense to make room for Dmitry Korobov.

Getty Images

Jon Cooper was straightforward that Andrej Sustr, pictured, will come out on defense to make room for Dmitry Korobov.

Looking to get some heavier bodies into the lineup against the Kings, coach Jon Cooper announced that Dmitry Korobov will make his NHL debut tonight at the Staples Center. He also made it sound as if Pierre-Cedric Labrie will return to the lineup after eight straight games as a scratch.

Cooper was straightforward that Andrej Sustr will come out on defense to make room for Korobov. But he was a bit more cryptic with who will be scratched at forward, indicating only it will be someone off the fourth line. Assuming center Nate Thompson is safe, that means either B.J. Crombeen or Ryan Malone will sit if Labrie plays. We won't know that, though, until tonight.

What was interesting was Cooper saying about who might be coming out, "We've got to keep some of these guys fresh and we have to keep some other guys on their toes."

As for Korobov, 24, he is indeed a big body at 6 feet 3, 230 pounds. He had six assists in 13 games with AHL Syracuse and was plus-7 before he was called up last week. …

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With Stamkos hurt, J.T. Brown getting his opportunity and making the most of it

J.T. Brown has six shots on goal in two games, has an assist, and is playing on the first power-play unit.

AP photo

J.T. Brown has six shots on goal in two games, has an assist, and is playing on the first power-play unit.

Had Steven Stamkos not gotten injured on Monday, who knows when J.T. Brown, who has played so well for AHL Syracuse, would have gotten a chance with the Lightning? But Brown, signed in March 2012 as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was called up this week when Stamkos sustained a broken right tibia and has fit right in.

The right wing is not a replacement for Stamkos -- who would be? -- yet he has six shots on goal in two games, has an assist, is playing on the first power-play unit and if not for a tremendous save by Montreal's Carey Price, would have had a goal in his first game up on Tuesday.

"Yeah, I wasn't sure if is slid though his legs or not," Brown said. "There have been a few chances so far but, I mean, if you're getting chances you're in the right spot, so that's the way I like to look at it." …

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