TAMPA — During Thursday's practice, Lightning C Cedric Paquette took a slap shot off his right shin and buckled to the ice in pain.
After getting helped off to the Ice Sports Forum dressing room, Paquette returned after practice ended, drawing a large ovation from teammates.
"It's not my year," he said.
Paquette was fine, and he played Friday night against the Penguins. But he has had his share of bad luck this season. It started with a left foot/ankle injury during the preseason blocking a shot, and later he missed a month after aggravating it in mid November.
"He's a warrior, though," coach Jon Cooper said.
Paquette said that with the injuries, it has taken him time to find his game, and he's still not completely happy with his play. He's trying to find his confidence. After setting career highs with 12 goals and seven assists in 64 games last season, Paquette entered Friday with two goals and two assists in 26 games.
"It's more my offensive side," he said. "I'm just playing a little bit too simple right now. I don't want to make a mistake. I wasn't thinking about that last year, and I do this year. It's just confidence."
WAITING GAME: RW Jonathan Marchessault might have played his way onto the roster after a late October callup, providing a spark, scoring six goals in his first 21 games and getting power-play time.
But with the Lightning now healthy, Marchessault has usually been the odd-forward out. He has been scratched eight times in the past 11 games. Marchessault still entered Friday with his six goals as many as C Valtteri Filppula and C Tyler Johnson, and one more than RW Ryan Callahan.
"It's hard to come back, play one game, sit out two or three," Marchessault said. "But it is what it is. Every hockey player, you want to skip a few steps. But everyone went through that."
Marchessault isn't the only one sitting a lot. D Matt Carle, the team's highest-paid defenseman at $5.5 million, has been scratched six times in the past seven games and nine of 12.
Cooper has said he doesn't like players sitting for long stretches, no matter if the team is on a winning streak. But the coach said it's difficult with a healthy team, wanting to stick with the same lineup that played so well Wednesday.
"We've done a decent job of getting guys in, but it's hard," Cooper said. "As a coach you want to get guys in, but what is paramount is you don't want guys to get hurt. We've gone a little bit of a stretch here where we haven't had injuries, and that's where it all just weighs out. So we'd like to get everybody in, and we are trying to do our best, and we will, eventually."
TRADE WINDS: With the trade deadline a little more than three weeks away, Feb. 29, seven teams had representatives at Friday's game. The Stars had two, including their director of hockey operations. The Jets and Maple Leafs had their directors of pro scouting in attendance.