ATLANTA — Another 13 minutes, 15 seconds and Vinny Lecavalier might have been home free.
Kent Hughes, agent for the Lightning star, said his client was not going to play in Saturday night's season-ending 4-1 loss to the Thrashers because of Friday's planned arthroscopic surgery to clean up his painful wrist.
Now, Hughes said, the discussion is if Lecavalier should have the procedure at the same time he has surgery to repair a torn glenoid labrum in his right shoulder.
That injury occurred 6:45 into the third period of Thursday's game against the Capitals when the shoulder was dislocated by Matt Cooke's illegal open-ice hit.
"Frustration and disappointment," Hughes said were Lecavalier's first emotions. "Now he's more focused on the injury and its extent and the timetable in terms of rehab."
The team said it will wait seven to 10 days for the swelling to reduce before scheduling surgery. The 40-goal scorer will need 12 to 15 weeks of rehab but is expected to be ready, "100 percent" general manager Jay Feaster said, for training camp.
"Everything else is tight," Feaster said. "Once it's repaired, it's as good as new."
Feaster said the biggest relief was the absence of rotator cuff damage.
"That has more potential for long-term problems," he said. "With this procedure, it's virtually 100 percent back to health, strength and everything else after surgery and rehab."
Lecavalier, 27, in Tampa for the MRI exam that revealed the damage, could not be reached. He said in a statement, "While I'm disappointed to be facing surgery, I'm looking forward to working hard over the summer to be ready for training camp in September."
More immediate is Monday's draft lottery.
With the loss at Philips Arena, Tampa Bay finished 31-42-9 and, with 71 points, last in the 30-team league for the third time in its 15-year history. That gives it a 48.2 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick.
Despite that bit of backhanded good news, the Lightning wasn't ready to let slide its feelings about Cooke's hit, which should have been called interference because Lecavalier did not have the puck and for which the league fined Cooke $2,500.
"I don't think it was a vicious hit, and I certainly don't think he was trying to hurt him," coach John Tortorella said. "But he was in a vulnerable position, didn't see him coming, didn't have the puck."
Feaster criticized Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau for suggesting Cooke was less at fault because Lecavalier stepped in front of the puck-carrying Michel Ouellet, at whom Boudreau said Cooke was aiming.
"I read Bruce Boudreau's comments that Vinny just happened to step in front of a train," Feaster said.
"I think he embarrasses himself every time he opens his mouth on the topic. I think they should be happy Matt Cooke is in the lineup and it's only a $2,500 fine."
Feaster said he wondered "what the howl would have been had it been a situation where they're playing (Saturday) for a chance to make the playoffs and their star is out for the next 12 to 15 weeks as opposed to us.
"I wonder if that's what it would have been had it been (Tampa Bay's Nick Tarnasky) hitting (Alex Ovechkin) and Ovi being out for 12 to 15 weeks. Might have been the end of the world."
The Lightning described Lecavalier's right elbow absorbing such a blow and the upper arm being pushed so hard, the shoulder popped out of the socket.
Feaster said it was popped back in without complications by trainers Tommy Mulligan and Jason Serbus.
That did not change the fact, Feaster said, that the incident, "in my opinion, should never be happening."
First Period—1, Atlanta, Holik 15 (Kovalchuk, Thorburn), 5:48. Penalty—Smaby, TB (tripping), 8:00.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Darche 7 (Kuba, Boyle), 3:50 (pp). Penalties—Larsen, Atl (high-sticking), 2:15; Havelid, Atl (high-sticking), 11:55.
Third Period—3, Atlanta, Armstrong 13 (Exelby, Perrin), 15:51. 4, Atlanta, Slater 8 (Armstrong, Perrin), 19:04 (en). 5, Atlanta, Little 6 (Recchi, Kozlov), 19:33. Penalties—Tarnasky, TB (interference), 1:54; Tarnasky, TB double minor (unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing), 7:54; Armstrong, Atl (roughing), 7:54. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 8-14-9—31. Atlanta 8-4-12—24. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 2; Atlanta 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 15-19-0 (23 shots-20 saves). Atlanta, Lehtonen 17-22-5 (31-30). A—18,732 (18,545).