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Hurt Ryan Malone could play for Tampa Bay Lightning tonight vs. Colorado Avalanche; Steven Stamkos 'less likely'

DENVER — Injured LW Ryan Malone might play tonight against the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, coach Rick Tocchet said Thursday. C Steven Stamkos, also hurt, is less likely "but not by much."

"They are both day to day," Tocchet said. "Whether that means one day or three days or four days, to that extent I don't know, but a little more positive news on that front."

The Lightning's top two goal scorers left Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Oilers, Malone with a lower-body injury, Stamkos with an upper-body injury.

Malone had an MRI exam Thursday, the results of which were not released. Stamkos had X-rays on Wednesday that he said were negative.

"No broken bones, nothing too serious" he said.

As for whether he will play tonight, Stamkos said it is wait-and-see.

"We'll see how it feels," he said. "I don't want to rush anything back. If it feels good (this) morning, I'll try it out at the skate and feel how it is. There's hope for (today), yeah."

Malone, through the Lightning, declined to comment.

As a precaution, C Blair Jones, who impressed Tocchet in a recent two-game stint with the big club, was recalled from AHL Norfolk.

However tonight shakes out, Tampa Bay has to be heartened by the initial reports. Stamkos, with 17 goals, and Malone, with 16, account for 33 of the team's 75. That's 44 percent. Also, Malone entered Thursday tied for the league lead with five game-winning goals.

"Any time your big guys are out of a game, you're concerned all of the time," Tocchet said. "Those are two big goal scorers out of your lineup and 50 minutes of ice time."

G Mike Smith said the situation is an opportunity.

"It gives a chance to some younger players and some guys who would like to get more minutes," he said. "It's time for them to step up and start contributing. It's tough to rely on two, three, four players for scoring every night. We need scoring throughout the lineup. It's a chance for guys to step up and put the puck in the net."

ROAD WARRIORS: Tonight's game begins a road trip with six games in 11 nights. Tampa Bay, which has lost six of seven, including one in overtime, can look to the Oilers to see how a road trip can transform a season.

Edmonton has won four straight away from home.

"A road trip can make or break your season," Smith said. "It's a tough road trip. We're playing some good teams, but if we play the way we can, I think we can come out of it feeling pretty good. …

"The main thing is not to look too far ahead. It's a long trip. You can wear yourself out going, 'Oh, we have 10 days left.' So, the main thing is to focus on one game at a time. Hopefully we get some wins and it makes the trip go a lot faster than it seems."

The compressed schedule is more of a challenge because of the injuries to Malone and Stamkos, Tocchet said:

"There are going to be guys getting a little more ice time that didn't get much. You're going to see where your team is at in these situations. Absolutely, this is a big test for us."

Hurt Ryan Malone could play for Tampa Bay Lightning tonight vs. Colorado Avalanche; Steven Stamkos 'less likely' 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:28pm]
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