Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Lindback out with ankle sprain

OTTAWA — If there is a silver lining to the high ankle sprain Anders Lindback sustained during Wednesday's loss to the Maple Leafs, it is he can walk on it without pain.

It is another story when the Lightning goaltender is on the ice in his butterfly stance and his right ankle is stressed. But Lindback is hoping for the best.

"It's pretty much in one spot, and it's not too far up the leg," he said Thursday. "Hopefully, it will be a quick recovery."

The problem is, high ankle sprains are notoriously temperamental. Senators goalie Craig Anderson is still out from such a sprain sustained Feb. 21.

The immediate consequence, though, is Lindback is in a walking boot and on injured reserve, meaning he is out at least seven days.

Mathieu Garon might get back-to-back duty Saturday against the Senators at Scotiabank Place and Sunday at Winnipeg, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, and Cedrick Desjardins was recalled from AHL Syracuse.

For those keeping count, the Lightning has four top-line players on injured reserve. The others are forwards Vinny Lecavalier (fractured left foot), Ryan Malone (left shoulder) and Ben Pouliot (right shoulder).

There was hope Pouliot might play this weekend, but the recall Thursday of Syracuse forward Richard Panik — the seventh rookie on Tampa Bay's roster — indicates otherwise. That's not exactly the best way to make a playoff push that was going to be almost impossible to begin with.

"A lot of good players are getting injured," center Steven Stamkos said. "That's always something easy to say as an excuse, but we've had some very impactful players who are out. When you look at it, it's tough to stay positive. It's tough to try to find good things."

Lindback, 24, was one of those good things.

In five starts since his forced eight days off during which he worked with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean, he was 3-2-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

But in the third period of Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Toronto, Lindback — in for Garon, who had been pulled early in the second — said he felt a pop in the ankle when he jammed his skate against the post while stopping Nazem Kadri's breakaway.

"Obviously, it's a little disappointing," said Lindback, who is 10-7-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. "You never want to get hurt, and now, especially, it's important with the games that are coming up. But it is what it is. I just have to deal with it."

The Lightning now must deal with the aftermath of a dreadful loss to Toronto that wiped out the good feelings from three wins in its previous four games. Boucher said players were flat, but players admitted they weren't ready to play.

Either way, "the next game is the bounce-back game," Boucher said of the matchup with the Senators. "How are we going to bounce back individually and as a team? And how are we going to cope with the fact that we have another adversity?

"I know we'll show up Saturday. Not show up two games in a row? We haven't done that all year. There's no reason to believe that guys don't care and they're not going to show up. I don't know if we're going to win, but we're going to show up."

With Lindback in a walking boot.

LUPUL SUSPENDED: Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul was suspended two games by the league for his shoulder-to-head hit Wednesday on defenseman Victor Hedman. The suspension will cost Lupul $45,945.94, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

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