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Johnson, Killorn hurt in Lightning preseason finale

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (9) on the ice during training camp at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday morning 09/21/15.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (9) on the ice during training camp at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday morning 09/21/15.

SUNRISE — The Triplets were down to one Saturday night.

With RW Nikita Kucherov (lower-body injury) already sitting out as a precaution, the Lightning lost All-Star C Tyler Johnson to an undisclosed injury in the second period of a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Panthers.

Also, LW Alex Killorn (undisclosed) left early in the third, forcing the Lightning, which started the game with 11 forwards, to play with nine.

"Guys were dropping like flies," C Steven Stamkos said.

Coach Jon Cooper said Johnson and Killorn would be re-evaluated today, when the severity of the injuries would be determined. The season opener is five days away, Thursday against the Flyers.

"I can sit here and say 'precaution,' but we won't know for sure until (today)," Cooper said. "Hopefully, everybody is going to be okay."

Kucherov, who was hurt Tuesday against the Stars, did participate in Saturday's morning skate in Estero, though he said he was still feeling some pain.

RIGHT TRACK: After a mostly underwhelming preseason, the Lightning (3-3-1) was encouraged about how it ended, scoring three goals in the third period Saturday while down two forwards.

Tampa Bay skated better and shot more, rallying with goals from forwards Ondrej Palat, Brian Boyle and Jonathan Drouin, who scored the winner with two minutes left.

"I hope this is a building block, a fresh state of hockey we need to play heading into the season," Stamkos said.

"We can see what makes us successful and what doesn't," said G Ben Bishop, who played the whole game and made 32 saves.

Drouin scored his fourth goal of the preseason, another highlight-reel play in which he weaved around D Aaron Ekblad before beating G Roberto Luongo.

"He's hot right now," Stamkos said.

Said Drouin: "Definitely fun to come into the season with more confidence, more momentum in my game."

Bishop also looked in regular-season form in his second straight full game. He played in 21/2 preseason games, one more than last year. "I feel good," he said. "I'm ready."

LINING UP: Though Cooper has insisted not to read too much into line combinations in training camp, the combinations have remained pretty consistent, with Stamkos centering a top line with Drouin and RW Ryan Callahan. The Triplets — Johnson, Kucherov and Palat — have remained together.

And when it comes to the third line, the trio of Killorn-Valtteri Filppula-Erik Condra has looked pretty good.

"They haven't played a lot together, but they've generated together," Cooper said. "A pretty responsible line, lot of hockey sense on the line. You've got to start somewhere, but I've kind of liked the chemistry those guys have had."

The fourth line has typically had center Boyle playing left wing, with Mike Angelidis or Vladislav Namestnikov and RW J.T Brown.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Without Kucherov, the Lightning went with seven defensemen (D Nikita Nesterov). Cooper interestingly split up the Andrej Sustr-Matt Carle pairing, putting Sustr with Braydon Coburn and Carle with Jason Garrison.

Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Johnson, Killorn hurt in Lightning preseason finale 10/03/15 [Last modified: Saturday, October 3, 2015 10:44pm]
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