SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Lightning had hoped C Tyler Johnson and C Cedric Paquette could return during the back-to-back games this weekend.
But with their recoveries from injuries taking longer than expected, both were scratched Saturday against the Sharks and were doubtful for tonight against the Kings.
"Disappointing," coach Jon Cooper said.
Johnson skated a couple of times last week as he recovers from an undisclosed injury suffered on the first shift of a Nov. 27 game against the Capitals. Paquette (upper body) hasn't played since Nov. 14 against the Panthers. Both are targeting a return Thursday against the Senators.
"When they come back, they're not coming back 75, 80 percent, they've got to come back 100 percent," Cooper said. "We can't have all these injuries recurring all the time. Can't have that. So we hope we get home and these guys take a few more strides forward."
LW Ondrej Palat (left ankle) continues to progress, having missed four weeks of his scheduled four- to five-week timetable. Cooper said Palat could return this week, "questionable" for Thursday.
MARCHING ON: C Jonathan Marchessault might have played his way onto the roster. He appeared in his 10th game Saturday, making him waiver-eligible, meaning he'll have to clear if the Lightning tries to send him back to AHL Syracuse.
Marchessault has been impressive in filling in while Paquette, Palat, Johnson and since-returned LW Jonathan Drouin have been hurt, with two goals entering Saturday (not including a shootout goal). Marchessault has also been on the power play. It'd be hard to envision Marchessault not getting picked up by another team if he is reassigned when Johnson, Palat and Paquette are back. So Marchessault is likely to stay, giving Tampa Bay 14 forwards when healthy, barring a trade.
"I just go with the flow, and it's going to be their decision at the end," Marchessault said. "We'll see what's going to happen. I'm just happy to be here. You try to come here and make them do a hard decision. Hopefully I can stay."
LEANING RIGHT: After spending most of this season at his natural center spot, Steven Stamkos has been playing right wing the past three games. As it was during last season's playoffs, Valtteri Filppula has centered Stamkos, with Alex Killorn on the left.
"We've got injuries. We're trying to make things happen," Cooper said. "All 'Stammer' wants to do is win. You talk to him about where he's playing, what is going to happen, he's like, 'Let's do it. Let's go get a win.' "
Stamkos said that though playing wing isn't new, it takes a few games to adjust. He had two assists and five shots Nov. 28 against the Islanders, just one shot Wednesday against the Ducks.
"You can put a spin on anything, 'try to free you up, get guys going,' " Stamkos said. "But whatever it is, things aren't going well if you have to switch things up."
LINING UP: G Ben Bishop started Saturday, with G Andrei Vasilevskiy likely playing tonight but not guaranteed.