Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning forwards Johnson, Paquette, Drouin miss Panthers game

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SUNRISE — The Lightning was without three regulars Monday, as forwards Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin were sidelined with injuries.

Johnson and Paquette didn't make the trip to South Florida.

"We're really banged up right now," coach Jon Cooper said.

Forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Blunden, called up Sunday from AHL Syracuse, were in the lineup. So was D Matt Taormina, who was called up Saturday, as Tampa Bay used seven defensemen.

"They're the only healthy guys we have," Cooper said.

Cooper said he thinks Johnson, Paquette and Drouin will be "okay in the short term," with hopes they can return Thursday against the Rangers.

Johnson got hurt Saturday by an elbow to the face from Florida's David Bolland late in the second period. He returned to the game in the third, but did not skate Sunday. Cooper said he's not concerned it's a concussion.

"That's not what has come up," Cooper said. "I think he's sore up there and has our chiropractor working on him and a masseuse, stuff like that, and I know he's not getting a scalp massage."

Paquette has battled a left ankle injury all season. Drouin, who skated Monday morning, said he got hurt Saturday, and it's not related to the lower-body injury that kept him out of five games this season. Asked if it's a short-term injury, Drouin said, "hard to say."

Long time: Taormina was excited for his first NHL game since December 2013, when he played seven for Tampa Bay.

"It's like starting another career," Taormina said.

Taormina said he's more confident than his last call-up and stronger defensively, having played more in penalty kill and final-minute situations.

"He's got poise," Cooper said of Taormina. "He knows the players in the league, he knows where to be on the ice. We have complete confidence in him."

Lightning crashes: The Lightning was encouraged it got to the net more Saturday, with two goals off rebounds and another on a scramble.

"You need to be a threat there," Cooper said. "I thought we were getting to be known as a little bit of a perimeter team and just keep us to the outside. The more you start challenging other teams, going to those areas, now you have to respect that, and it opens everything else up in your game."

Fighting words: Panthers enforcer Shawn Thornton was scratched, removing any possibility of him and Lightning RW J.T. Brown rekindling their scrum from Saturday. Thornton thought Brown had a couple of late hits. Both got 10-minute misconduct penalties after getting in each other's face, separated by referees.

"Referees protect everyone now," Thornton said. "Ten years ago, it'd be a different story. Whether he wanted to fight or didn't, it's not like he was playing dead either. He was pushing back the ref. In my world, that's, 'Get out of the way and let us sort it out.' "

Nuts and bolts: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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