Saturday, September 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Jonathan Drouin on track to return on trip

TAMPA — Lightning F Jonathan Drouin took another step toward his return Saturday when he participated in the morning skate.

It was the first time he skated with his teammates since taking a hit to the head Nov. 1 against the Islanders in New York.

Coach Jon Cooper said Drouin was expected to rejoin the team during its five-game road trip that begins Monday against the Islanders.

"I don't have any updates now, but hopefully, on the road, he's going to jump in," Cooper said.

"I couldn't tell you if it's the first game or the fifth game, but he's coming with us."

Drouin hasn't played since being injured. He missed his fifth straight game Saturday when the Lightning lost 3-1 to the visiting Sharks.

When asked if he suffered a concussion, Drouin said, "Hard to say. … Upper-body (injury)."

When asked what he thought of the hit by Islanders D Calvin de Haan, Drouin said, "I thought I just leaned in and put myself in a vulnerable spot a little bit. I hold no grudge. He finished his check. It's fine."

Drouin, wearing a gray jersey Saturday, took part in every drill with his teammates.

"It's been going better every day, so that's pretty much it," he said. "Not much to say about it."

Going on the trip will be the final step, though Drouin remained cautious.

"It's hard to say if I'm going to be playing on the road trip," he said, "but just going on the road trip is a good sign."

Drouin had two goals and five points in the first 10 games. He controlled the puck well and displayed his play-making skills, picking up where he left off during last year's playoffs. He also showed improvement on defense.

"He's a big part of the team. He's very talented," F Ryan Callahan said. "He's one of our top guys, so when he's in the lineup, we're better."

STRALMAN INJURed: D Anton Stralman left the game with an upper-body injury 14:06 into the third period.

Stralman took a slap shot from the left circle, then doubled over and fell onto the ice. The shot was blocked by San Jose F Joe Thornton and ended up in the protective netting. Stralman was attended to on the ice, skated off and headed to the trainer's room.

"Something happened," Cooper said. "It's not head related. That has nothing to do with it."

Stralman did not practice Wednesday or Friday for what was termed body maintenance. He did not participate in the optional morning skates Thursday and Saturday.

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Ben Bishop stopped a penalty shot in the first period, stuffing an attempt by F Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi was hooked on a breakaway by D Andrej Sustr. … The Lightning wore all-black uniforms for the first time this season. …D Nikita Nesterov was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in the past six games.

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