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Neck trouble of Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne still a mystery

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coach Guy Boucher reiterated Saturday that LW Simon Gagne is not displaying concussion symptoms.

Even so, it seems no diagnosis has been ruled out as the team tries to figure out why persistent pain in the back of Gagne's neck has not significantly diminished.

Gagne, hurt Oct. 21 when checked into the boards by the Islanders' Michael Grabner, is on injured reserve and missed his fourth straight game Saturday with what is being called a neck strain. He continued to have tests in Tampa and has had at least two MRI exams that apparently were negative.

"We know the neck is not progressing," Boucher said. "It's taking more time than we think, so we want to make sure we're doing the right thing here."

Gagne has had at least two concussions in his career, part of an injury history that was a concern when Tampa Bay acquired him in July and his $5.25 million salary from the Flyers.

Asked about concussion concerns, Boucher said, "If it would be that, the symptoms are not apparent. We're waiting to make sure. We have major specialists looking at it."

kubina hit 'dirty'? Coyotes D Keith Yandle said there is no doubt in his mind the knee-to-knee hit on him by Lightning D Pavel Kubina was "dirty."

"He stuck his knee out deliberately," said Yandle of what happened with 7:06 left in the game. "I had him wide, and he stuck his knee out deliberately. There's no room in the game for that."

Kubina said, "I didn't try to knee the guy. I was going to back up first, and then I tried to hit him, and he skated right into me. That's all I can say."

Kubina was given two minutes for kneeing and fought the Coyotes' Shane Doan, who retaliated.

SMABY OUT: D Matt Smaby, scheduled to play against the Coyotes after missing a game because of a stomach virus, sprained his right ankle in a morning soccer game and is day to day. "I rolled over the ball," he said. "The black cloud followed me to Phoenix."

Tampa Bay regularly holds what it calls "activations," used to get bodies moving on game days. Boucher said he doesn't worry about injury risk.

"I had a guy (at AHL Hamilton) sprain a groin going down three steps out of his home," he said. "If you don't get out of your house or don't get up in the morning, I'm pretty sure nothing is going to happen to you."

LINEUP: Boucher wanted to use seven defensemen instead of the usual six because Mattias Ohlund (knee), in his second game of the season, still is not in game shape. But with Smaby out and Mike Vernace demoted Friday to AHL Norfolk, only six were available. RW Teddy Purcell got a chance on the No. 1 power-play unit. Boucher said Purcell is simply a "different" fit than Ryan Malone, who was there in Gagne's absence. The Lightning was 0-for-6 on five-on-four power plays against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

ODDS AND ENDS: First-period X-rays on D Victor Hedman's injured left foot were negative. He was limping after the game. … LW Marty St. Louis played his 400th consecutive game, the league's fourth-longest active streak. … C Dominic Moore (groin) was scratched.

Neck trouble of Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne still a mystery 10/30/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 31, 2010 1:49am]

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