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Flight delay costs forward prospect Lightning debut

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller (30) jumps over Tampa Bay Lightning's J.T Brown (23) during third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.  (Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press via AP) VCRX120

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller (30) jumps over Tampa Bay Lightning's J.T Brown (23) during third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press via AP) VCRX120

EDMONTON — Shortly into Lightning coach Jon Cooper's pregame media session Saturday, he said, "You want to hear an awful story?"

A heartbreaking one, actually.

With C Cedric Paquette the latest forward to get hurt, prospect Tanner Richard, 23, was called up from AHL Syracuse and scheduled to make his anticipated NHL debut Saturday against the Oilers.

But Richard's 8 a.m. flight out of New York sat on a tarmac for two hours, forcing him to miss his connection in Minneapolis. His scheduled flight to Edmonton was taking off as he arrived.

With the next flight to Edmonton not arriving until after the game, Richard was returned to Syracuse. But it was not in time for the Crunch's game in Bridgeport. So Richard missed two games in one night.

Richard, a third-round draft pick in 2012, got called up last season, too, and he took part in warmups before being a healthy scratch. He is deserving of an NHL debut this season, having racked up seven goals and 10 assists in 21 games at Syracuse.

Richard was the fourth Crunch forward to get a callup this season. He just never got here.

medical matters: RW Nikita Kucherov (lower body) and LW Ondrej Palat (upper body) did not play Saturday, and Cooper didn't seem optimistic they could return for Tuesday's home game against the Red Wings. They were considered day-to-day. RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) missed his ninth straight game. The team went with seven defensemen. "We had no choice," Cooper said.

been awhile: RW Cory Conacher snapped a lengthy drought in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Canucks.

Conacher's third-period power-play goal was his first NHL goal since Oct. 11, 2014.

Conacher followed up with a big assist Saturday, setting up C Tyler Johnson's go-ahead goal in the third period of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Oilers."It's definitely nice to get the first one out of the way," he said. "It would have been nicer if we got the win out of it."

friday's game: The Canucks' winning goal was unlucky for the Lightning. An innocent dump-in on a power play took a weird carom to G Andrei Vasilevskiy, with C Bo Horvat pouncing on the rebound.

But the game was really lost for Tampa Bay in the second period. It made two critical mistakes in its defensive zone: a turnover by D Slater Koekkoek and a missed coverage by C Vladislav Namestnikov missed coverage. They resulted in two Vancouver goals, erasing a one-goal Lightning lead.

"The second period, we stopped doing the right things, took the easy way out a little bit, and they hurt us," D Anton Stralman said.

"Another self-inflicted loss," Cooper said.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Ben Bishop started in net. … Victor Hedman recorded his 254rd career point Saturday, surpassing with Dan Boyle for most all time by a Lightning defenseman. … C Brayden Point played a career-high 23 minutes, 33 seconds. .

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Flight delay costs forward prospect Lightning debut 12/17/16 [Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2016 2:05am]
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