Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Jonathan Drouin skates for first time since hit to head

TAMPA — For the first time since taking a hit to the head during the Lightning's win against the Islanders on Tuesday, F Jonathan Drouin was on the ice Saturday.

"That was a good thing," coach Jon Cooper said.

Drouin skated before his teammates took the ice for the optional morning skate before the night game against the Devils. There was still no timetable for his return. The Lightning was not scheduled to practice today before flying to Sunrise for Monday night's game against the Panthers.

The Lightning played the Devils without its playmaking left wing for the second straight game. F Brayden Point has received more ice time in Drouin's absence, playing more than 17 minutes in the two games before Saturday.

"We have some really good depth," F Brian Boyle said. "We have guys who can fill in different spots, and when you're put in those spots, you're expected to do well. It's not a 'Oh, let's hope he contributes tonight.' If your role increases because of injury, you're expected to do well, and we have the depth to do that."

SOME NEW CHICLETS: G Ben Bishop started Saturday, sporting two new front teeth.

He spent four hours Wednesday in a dentist's chair while his two upper front teeth were replaced. Bishop had them knocked out Oct. 25 in Toronto when he took a shot by F Peter Holland of the Maple Leafs off the front of his mask. He played three more games on the road trip while postponing the oral surgery until the Lightning returned to Tampa Bay.

"Two new teeth and some stitches later, and I'm back," Bishop said. "I'm good."

Bishop said he was sore Thursday but didn't expect the dental work to present an issue Saturday.

"Still a little swollen," he said, "but it's all right."

THE OT POWER PLAY: Though the Lightning's overall power-play production has increased this season, the team still needs to work on 4-on-3 situations presented when the opposing team draws a penalty during the 3-on-3 overtimes.

The Lightning has just one shot on goal during its two 4-on-3 opportunities this season.

"It's early in the season right now," F Tyler Johnson said. "There's not too many times we're going to be on a 4-on-3, so we don't rally practice it much at this time of the year.

"Obviously, there are a lot of other things we can be doing with that on a nightly basis. We practiced it (Friday). We got some plays down. Over the season, you get better and better at it."

NUTS AND BOLTS: D Victor Hedman played his 482nd NHL game Saturday, tying F Chris Gratton for seventh most in Lightning history. … D Nikita Nesterov was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. … The Lightning and Devils met for the third time in 22 days. It was the last game between the teams this season.

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