Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Hurt St. Louis day to day; Connolly called up from AHL

TAMPA — When Lightning captain Marty St. Louis on Tuesday was hit on the foot by Drew Doughty's slap shot, the sound of puck hitting skate could be heard at the top of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

St. Louis played another five shifts in the 5-1 victory over the Kings, in which he had two goals and three points but limped noticeably leaving the locker room. It was a sign of a problem that on Wednesday morphed into something a bit more concerning. The right wing missed practice and was seen leaving the Times Forum in a walking boot.

The team said simply St. Louis is day to day with a lower-body injury. And though St. Louis did not rule himself out for tonight's home game against the Wild, the recall of Brett Connolly from AHL Syracuse indicates St. Louis will miss at least one game.

"From all indications, it's nothing that is alarmingly serious," coach Jon Cooper said.

Cooper did, however, equate St. Louis' situation to that of goaltender Ben Bishop, who sat out one game last week because of a minor lower-body injury.

"I don't want to jump to any conclusions," Cooper said. "But much like the Bishop thing, it was rest, precaution, let's see what happens."

Losing St. Louis, 38, would be a substantial blow for Tampa Bay (4-2-0), which has won four of its past five games. His 10 points, on four goals and six assists, entered Wednesday second in the league, two points behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

St. Louis is a mainstay on the power play and penalty kill, and is averaging 21:12 of ice time, tops among Lightning forwards and second among league right wings. His three points against Los Angeles gave him 902 in his Tampa Bay career.

At Wednesday's practice, Valtteri Filppula took St. Louis's spot on the first power-play unit.

"No one is going to fill that role," right wing Teddy Purcell said generally about life perhaps without St. Louis. "But we've got some good depth. It's going to be another opportunity for a young guy, or a guy like myself, or whoever (Cooper) decides to take on a lot of those minutes, to get a chance."

"Marty will be the first one to tell you it's not all about one person. It's about the team," Cooper said. "The guys all know what we're doing. Obviously, it's not going to be a seamless transition because of what he brings to our team. But we have enough depth, so we should be able to survive it."

The Lightning has not had to survive much without St. Louis, who has not been sidelined by a game-related injury since a broken leg in January 2002 kept him out for 21/2 months.

He was supposed to be out up to four weeks with a broken left ring finger sustained in a November 2005 practice but missed just two games and scored the winner in his first game back.

St. Louis missed five games in December 2011 when hit in the left eye by a puck during a morning skate. That stopped his streak of 499 consecutive games played.

"You always have to respect a hockey player, especially a guy like Marty," Cooper said. "They're gamers. That's why they have careers like they've had. They're the ultimate competitors."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

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