Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Hurt Hedman leaves big hole for Lightning

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — For injured Lightning D Victor Hedman, missing both ends of this weekend's back-to-back with the Islanders and Capitals is "devastating."

For coach Jon Cooper, it presents a challenge.

"There's no replacement for him," Cooper said Saturday.

Hedman — with four goals, 16 points, averaging 22:22 of ice time and plus-8 — was hurt in the first period of Thursday's 5-0 victory over the Hurricanes and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Neither he nor Cooper offered a timetable for his return.

"Usually I'm a quick healer," Hedman said. "Hopefully, this will be the same way."

If there is a silver lining, Cooper said, it is players took up the slack against Carolina for the two periods Hedman missed.

That said, "You ask (New York's) John Tavares if he'd rather have Victor Hedman in or out," Cooper added. "I'm sure he'd be, 'I'd rather have him out.' (Hedman) can skate, move the puck for us. He can jump into the rush and push teams back. He's a big hole (to fill)."

INTO THE FIRE: The Lightning has had problems moving the puck out of its end, and with Hedman injured, the problem becomes more acute. That is why the team promoted Matt Taormina from AHL Syracuse.

"We've got to be better at breaking pucks out of our end, and he's good at that," Cooper said of the defenseman who played 47 games for the Devils from 2010-12. "He can play that steady role for us, eat up some minutes, and he can keep up with the guys in this league."

It helps that Taormina finally is over a lower-back injury sustained in January at training camp. He was out until March 2. "I just fell wrong," Taormina said. "It was one of those weird injuries. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know how or when you're going to come back or what you need to do about it."

PRICE PAID: C Nate Thompson played against the Islanders after a two-game league suspension for a head shot on New Jersey's Matt D'Agostini.

"A big boost," Cooper said.

"It was tough," Thompson said of the suspension. "Mostly it's disappointing, because the team is playing well right now and we have some momentum. You don't want to miss out on that."

Thompson, a primary penalty-killer, entered Saturday, his 300th NHL game, with seven goals, 11 points, averaging 14:52 of ice time and having won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs.

HOMECOMING: Cooper, who attended Hofstra next to the Nassau Coliseum, said he would have "a little bit of a crew" at Saturday's game. Cooper graduated with a business administration degree and played midfield for the lacrosse team. "One of my favorite players," said John Danowski, who coached Cooper at Hofstra and is now at Duke. "Through hard work and discipline and attention to details and the fundamentals, he made himself into a good player and helped us build the foundation for a program."

ODDS AND ENDS: After losing 14 of 16 faceoffs in the first period of Tuesday's game with the Panthers, Tampa Bay, entering Saturday, had won 61 of its next 103. … RW Dana Tyrell was scratched.

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