Johnson hasn't ruled out return by weekend
What caused Lightning center Tyler Johnson's undisclosed injury - just 48 seconds into Friday's game - remains a mystery.
Even to Johnson.
"Just an unlucky, unfortunate thing," Johnson said. "It really wasn't anything. I've watched video 100 times and I still don't quite know exactly what happened... Just unfortunate for me it happened at a bad moment."
Johnson will miss his second consecutive game tonight against the Ducks, but after skating with the team for the first time Tuesday, he hasn't ruled out a return by this weekend's back-to-back games Saturday (San Jose) and Sunday (Los Angeles).
"That's definitely open," he said. "Hopefully I wake up (Thursday) and feel great. Just one of those things I really don't know."
It's been a frustrating season for Johnson, who has four goals in 21 games after being an All-Star last year. He had just returned (scoring a goal Nov. 25 against the Kings) after missing three games with an unrelated upper-body injury when he got hurt Friday.
"It's definitely upsetting," Johnson said. "It's definitely hard to watch hockey. It's one of the hardest things for me is to sit there and watch, not be a part of the game. I've been unlucky with this, can't really control it."
MORE MEDICAL: LW Jonathan Drouin, who missed six games with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return to the lineup tonight; he played on a line with RW Nikita Kucherov and C Vladislav Namestnikov in Tuesday's practice.
C Cedric Paquette (upper body) skated again Wednesday morning but will miss his seventh consecutive game. Paquette is feeling better but "not quite ready."
LW Ondrej Palat (left ankle), out since Nov. 7, felt good in his first full practice Tuesday, and again Wednesday, though coach Jon Cooper said he'd be very surprised if Palat returned this weekend.
"I'm practice-ready, just need a couple more practices with the team to get in tempo and be ready for a game," Palat said.
STEPPING IN: D Nikita Nesterov was recalled from AHL Syracuse Monday after spending the last month getting regular action with the Crunch. Nesterov, who had played just six games for Tampa Bay, is expected to be in the lineup tonight, with Tampa Bay hoping he can boost its offense, and power play. Cooper said he got good reports from how Nesterov played in 10 games with the Crunch (one goal, three assists), hoping that gives him confidence.
"We know when he's rolling, it can be good for us," Cooper said.
FAMILIAR FACE: Former Lightning C Nate Thompson quipped it was "ironic" that he'll likely make his season debut tonight for the Ducks against Tampa Bay. Thompson has been sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery in June, the first time he had surgery and missed the start of a season.
"The last couple days I haven't been able to stop smiling," Thompson said. "It's like Christmas morning."
LINING UP: G Ben Bishop is expected to start for the Lightning, with John Gibson going for the Ducks.. Only a handful of Lightning players participated in a very optional morning skate, with veterans Ryan Callahan and Matt Carle joining Palat, Paquette, Joel Vermin, Nesterov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.