Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Lecavalier out indefinitely

TAMPA — The Lightning has what GM Steve Yzerman said is "a big hole" in its lineup with C Vinny Lecavalier out indefinitely with an unspecified lower-body injury, possibly to his previously hurt left foot.

"It's obviously disappointing," Lecavalier wrote in a text message. "I will do everything I can to be back as soon as possible."

Lecavalier is on injured reserve, so he must sit out at least seven days. But Yzerman said Thursday that Lecavalier probably will be out longer, though no surgery is required.

"That's our season right there, adversity," coach Guy Boucher said. "We'll get through it."

C Tyler Johnson, 22, was called up from AHL Syracuse and made his NHL debut in the 2-0 loss to the Islanders.

Lecavalier was hurt in Tuesday's loss to the Panthers when he and Florida D Erik Gudbranson collided next to the Panthers net. After the game, Boucher indicated Lecavalier was okay. But given how Lecavalier left the ice, it's reasonable he at least aggravated a bone bruise on his left foot sustained Feb. 2 vs. the Rangers.

The bruise limited his production to three goals in his next 18 games. But he had a goal and four assists in his past five, and with a goal and an assist against Florida, he played his best game since he was hurt.

"It's tough," C Steven Stamkos said. "We all know what he brings to the team. ... Other guys have to step up."

That includes Johnson, who had a league-best 31 goals and team-best 57 points in 59 games for Syracuse.

"A dream come true," Johnson said before the game, watched by his parents, who flew in from Spokane, Wash. "I've been pretty nervous and excited and butterflies and anxious and all those words all day. I've just got to calm myself and play my game."

Johnson had 11:39 of ice time against New York and made a fine pass across the slot to Victor Hedman, though the defenseman could not get off a shot.

"He played fine," Boucher said. "He did well on his breakouts. He's got speed. He's smart in the defensive zone."

Dad again: Lecavalier's wife, Caroline, gave birth to their third child, and second daughter, Thursday, Amelia Christiane, 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

MORE INJURIES: F Tom Pyatt (upper body) is day-to-day. … LW Ben Pouliot (right shoulder) is out of a sling but has no return date.

ON THE DRAW: Losing Lecavalier means losing one of the team's best at faceoffs; he has won 54.8 percent. No surprise, then, that C Adam Hall, a healthy scratch in three straight games, was back in the lineup. Hall, who entered with a 56 percent winning percentage, did his part, winning four of six faceoffs. But Tampa Bay won only 44 percent (22-of-50). Johnson lost four of six.

ODDS AND ENDS: Former C John Cullen, who in 1998 returned after becoming cancer-free, was honored as part of the team's 20th anniversary celebration. … Defensemen Brian Lee and Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched. … D Keith Aulie played his 100th NHL game.

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