TAMPA — When it was determined Thursday that Marty St. Louis could not further damage his injured right foot — hurt when hit by a slap shot Tuesday against the Kings — the decision was made to let him play.
The Lightning captain also said the threat of injury should not keep Tampa Bay's top players off the penalty kill. St. Louis was hurt while helping kill a penalty.
"This is hockey," said St. Louis, who had 21:29 of ice time in the 3-1 win against the Wild. "It's a physical game. It's a fast-paced game. You're trying to go out there and win games. You can't worry, 'What if he gets hurt?' No, you come to play, and sometimes you get hurt."
Using players such as St. Louis and Steven Stamkos on the penalty kill is an attempt to add offense to the endeavor. It has worked, too. Stamkos on Oct. 10 scored a shorty in a 7-2 win over the Panthers. But playing on the penalty kill also has inherent dangers. "In a sense, on the penalty kill, because you don't have the puck as much and guys are shooting, you tend to be in the way a little bit more," coach Jon Cooper said.
But the coach noted that LW Ryan Malone scored against the Kings when a puck deflected in off his foot.
"What if (he was injured)? Would people be saying you should not be in front of the net on a five-on-five?" Cooper said.
"No matter who you are … somebody might get one in the foot. It just so happened Marty got one on the PK and now it becomes an issue. But I'm not going to change the way I put guys out there. The second we're fearing a guy getting hurt on a blocked shot, we're probably in the wrong sport."
That said, St. Louis against the Wild did not play on the penalty kill, an obvious precaution.
ROSTER SWITCH: RW Brett Connolly, called up from AHL Syracuse in case St. Louis could not go, played anyway. Pierre-Cedric Labrie was scratched for the first time this season.
GREAT SAVE: Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop won the game, but Wild G Josh Harding had the save of the game, stopping Stamkos at the end of a two-on-none with Alex Killorn to preserve Minnesota's 1-0 second-period deficit. Killorn passed to Stamkos at the front of the net. Harding, lunging forward, threw up his left leg to make the save. "I knew Alex was going to give (the puck) to me," Stamkos said. "By the time I got it, Harding made a good read and I couldn't get it up. A real good save."
SNAKE BIT: It was unclear whether a small snake found by the Wild was in an auxiliary locker room used for a pregame meeting or in the training room. Either way, it was a startling find (the type of snake was not identified). "He was all rolled up," RW Jason Pominville said. "It was really thin." You don't see that every day, someone quipped. "No, not really," Pominville said. "Should check our bags."
ODDS AND ENDS: Sami Salo's empty-net goal was the first this season by a Lightning defenseman. … The announced crowd of 16,310 at Tuesday's game with the Kings was the lowest for a Lightning game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum since 15,104 showed up Feb. 23, 2011, to see the Coyotes. … Defensemen Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie also were scratched.