Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Point latest big Lightning injury

TAMPA — Rookie C Brayden Point is out four to six weeks with an upper-body injury, the Lightning said Thursday.

It's a big blow for Tampa Bay and Point, 20, who has played well in his first full pro season. Point has three goals and 12 assists in 36 games, earning top-six-type minutes and a power-play spot.

" 'Pointer' was really coming into his own," coach Jon Cooper said. "We moved him to (center); he got a little feel for the league. Would be hard-pressed to say he hasn't been our best forward the last eight, 10 games. He's going to be missed. It's too bad."

Also, C Vladislav Namestnikov (upper body), whose head hit the boards hard on a check by Montreal D Shea Weber in the third period Wednesday, was out Thursday against the Maple Leafs and was considered day-to-day. F Cedric Paquette (lower body) was also scratched.

The Lightning recalled forwards Yanni Gourde and Erik Condra from AHL Syracuse. Condra was a healthy scratch. Gourde made his season debut, becoming the seventh Crunch forward to appear in a Lightning game.

"When you think you're taking steps to get healthier, we take two steps back," Cooper said.

HE'S BACK: C Valtteri Filppula was back in the lineup after getting scratched Wednesday because he missed a morning team meeting.

Filppula was one of just a few players to participate in an optional morning skate Thursday before a another team meeting. Filppula was not made available to the media. Cooper said he considers the matter closed.

"It's all about the team," Cooper said. "Everything here is team first. But the hard thing about the situation like this was, there was no ill will in any of this. That's the part that's tough, when it's a simple mistake. But everyone else is included in this, trust me. Nobody wants any of this to happen. Fortunately for us, we were able to win the game (Wednesday against the Canadiens). But believe me, we're a much better team with Val in the lineup."

SHEA OKAY: There was no hearing or supplemental discipline for Weber for his hit on Namestnikov. The league's Department of Player Safety reviewed the check and said it was clean and from the side, not from behind.

VASY AGAIN: For the second time in the past week, G Andrei Vasilev­skiy started in both ends of back-to-back games. Vasilevskiy won Dec. 22 against the Blues but was pulled the next night in Washington after allowing four goals on 24 shots in a 4-0 loss.

"It's definitely different for him," Cooper said. "It's not unheard of, guys playing back to back. American League guys, they play three in 21/2 days. Is it ideal for them? No. But it's a test, and it's another way to push yourself and another way to get better."

POOR CRUNCH: Cooper, a former AHL coach, feels for Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx in having to be shorthanded with all the Lightning callups because of injuries. Gourde was the seventh Syracuse forward to get called up this season.

"It is trying when that happens," Cooper said. "It also helped me deal with situations that are happening now in a sense that when players go down, it's not the end of the world. There are guys to fill their shoes. But it's tough for Syracuse guys because I know they have a really good thing going down there."

Syracuse leads the North Division.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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