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Pyatt returns to Lightning after long layoff

TAMPA — It had been so long since Tom Pyatt played, and it was such a short stint, that the Lightning forward said Saturday's game with the Hurricanes seemed like it was his first game of the season.

"It's been a while," he said before the game. "I'm just going to go out there and have fun and not overthink it; just make the reads and have fun on it."

Pyatt missed 32 games with a broken collarbone sustained Oct. 8 at Buffalo. He played just 13 minutes, 15 seconds that game, his first of the season, before getting crunched into the side boards in the third period by Marcus Foligno.

Pyatt expected to be cleared for the Dec. 3 game at Columbus, but a CT scan showed a gap where the bone had not healed. He was out more than 10 weeks.

"He can play the middle, which is something we've been lacking since (Steven Stamkos) went down, so it gives us another option there," coach Jon Cooper said. "You need a guy to jump in the power play. You need a guy to jump in the PK. He can do it all. And he's got some speed out there, so he's going to help out with our attack."

In 8:32 of ice time Saturday (including 34 seconds on the penalty kill), he was minus-1 with four shots and went 2-of-8 on faceoffs.

For Pyatt, who had eight goals, 16 points in 43 games last season, the key was keeping his enthusiasm in check — "I'll have to tell myself to slow down the first couple of shifts," he said — and be aware of his conditioning.

"After a few games, I'll be right where I want to be," he said. "I just want to come in and help the team out.

"The guys have been playing unreal. It's been fun to watch. I want to join in and be a big part of it."

BREWER HURT: D Eric Brewer left Saturday's game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Cooper said he does not believe it is serious.

MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: Of the Lightning's other injured players — Stamkos (broken leg), D Keith Aulie (broken hand), LW Ryan Malone (ankle) and D Brian Lee (knee) — Malone is closest to returning, though Cooper said that is not expected until after the new year.

SHOTS APLENTY: The Lightning registered 50 shots on goal for the fifth time in its history. The record is 52 set at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Nov. 18, 2011, in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Panthers. Tampa Bay's 19 first-period shots were the most in a period this season.

GOOD DEEDS: The Lightning named its 100th Community Hero: Patricia McGuigan of North Tampa, who received a $50,000 grant from the Lightning Foundation and Community Heros Program. She will donate the money to The Spring and LifePath Hospice, the team said.

Tampa Bay owner Jeff Vinik and wife Penny began the Community Heroes Program last season to distribute $10 million over five years. So far, $5 million has been distributed.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning is 14-3-1 at home and 9-2-1 in overtime or shootout games. … Tampa Bay is 10-3-3 in one-goal games. … The Hurricanes scored their league-best seventh shorthanded goal, all on the road. … The Lightning played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … Forwards B.J. Crombeen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie and D Mark Barberio were scratched.

Pyatt returns to Lightning after long layoff 12/21/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:10am]
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