Lightning's Johnson, Paquette and Drouin out tonight
The Lightning will be without three regulars tonight, as forwards Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin are all out with injuries.
"We're really banged up right now," coach Jon Cooper said.
Jonathan Marchessault, Mike Blunden - called up Sunday from AHL Syracuse - will be in the lineup. So will defenseman Matt Taormina, who was called up Saturday as Tampa Bay will go with seven defenseman. "They're the only healthy guys we have," Cooper said.
Cooper said he thinks Johnson, Paquette and Drouin will be "okay in the short term," with hopes they'll be able to return by Thursday's game against the Rangers. But that remains to be seen.
Johnson got hurt Saturday taking an elbow to the face by David Bolland late in the second period. He returned to the game in the third, but did not skate Sunday and didn't make the trip to Sunrise. Cooper said he's not concerned it's a concussion. "He's got our chiropractor working on him," Cooper quipped.
Paquette has battled a left ankle injury all season. Drouin, who skated today, said he got hurt Saturday, not related to the lower body injury that kept him out of five games earlier this season. Asked if it's a short term injury, Drouin said "hard to say."
More from morning skate: G Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net for the Lightning... Taormina was excited for his first NHL game since Dec. 2013, when he played seven for Tampa Bay. "It's like starting another career," Taormina said. Taormina said he's more confident than his last call-up, stronger defensively, partly helped by being paired with offensively-gifted defenseman Anthony DeAngelo with the Crunch. "He's got poise," Cooper said. "He knows the players in the league, he knows where to be on the ice, we have complete confidence in him." The Lightning was encouraged it got to the net more Saturday, with two goals off rebounds and another on a scramble. "You need to be a threat there," Cooper said. "I thought we were getting to be known as a little bit of a perimeter team and just keep us to the outside. The more you start challenging other teams, going to those areas, now you have to respect that, and it opens everything else up in your game." Panthers enforcer Shawn Thornton is scratched tonight, so there won't be any lingering chippiness from Saturday, when he and J.T. Brown got into it, both earning 10-minute misconduct penalties. "I thought there was a couple late hits by him, I wanted to address it," Thornton said. "But referees protect everyone now. Ten years ago, it'd be a different story. Whether he wanted to fight or didn't, it's not like he was playing dead either. He was pushing back the ref. In my world, that's 'Get out of the way and let us sort it out.'" The Lightning are one of only three NHL teams without a fight this season.