TAMPA — Lightning C Steven Stamkos' jersey looks a bit different these days.
It's now emblazoned with a large "A" for alternate captain, a role that D Mattias Ohlund had filled (along with Marty St. Louis). Ohlund is out indefinitely with a left ankle injury; he didn't dress for a fifth straight game on Saturday night.
"It's a pretty big honor," Stamkos said. "Obviously it's because Ohlund's hurt, but even in that case, to be wearing the letter is pretty special."
It's also unusual for that letter to be bestowed on a 20-year-old.
But then Stamkos has proven not to be your usual youngster. He entered the game against the Capitals tied with St. Louis for the team lead in scoring (82 points). He set a franchise a record for consecutive games with a point (18) this month.
"It's a little unusual, but I do think that with his overall growth and leadership, he deserves it," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He's done the right things, especially the last two months, to earn it —playing hurt; doing all the right things that leaders do."
Hale returns: D David Hale, who broke a bone in his right leg early last month, is off of injured reserve and got on the ice for the Lightning for the first time since Jan. 21.
"It's important to keep things simple," he said after Saturday morning's practice. "I don't want to say ease my way back into against Washington, but just keep it simple and not try to do too much."
Hale, whose status was a game-time decision, began skating about two weeks ago and said he was in great "practice" shape.
"As far as game condition," he said, "there's no way to get into that except for playing in games."
Service winner: LW Stephane Veilleux entered the locker room after practice and quickly grabbed a pen and left a message on the grease board for his teammates:
Reminder. (2) Roddick vs. Veilleux (1)
Monday 7 p.m.
That was a reference to Veilleux, quite the tennis enthusiast, taking on Andy Roddick as part of the Tampa Tennis Classic at the St. Pete Times Forum. The event benefits Raymond James Courier's Kids, a program founded by Jim Courier.
"It'll be awesome. He's been my favorite athlete," said Veilleux, who will receive five of Roddick's famed serves and will serve to Roddick. "I actually went to Wimbledon last summer and got to watch him in the quarterfinals and semifinals and the final against Roger Federer. I'm a big tennis fan."
Veilleux started playing the game when he was 5, traveled for tournaments and was promising enough that he could have received a scholarship to play. But tennis was a bit too expensive and he was also pretty good at hockey. And if Roddick gets the best of him Monday?
"I think I should get a rematch at pingpong if he beats me at tennis," Veilleux said. "I think I have a pretty good chance against him at pingpong."
Odds and ends: C Zenon Konopka (back spasms), who didn't dress for the previous seven games, was in the lineup. … The Lightning scratched Ohlund, LW Ryan Malone, LW Alex Tanguay and D Matt Smaby. … A couple hundred employees/family from Grow Financial Credit Union, a sponsor, attended practice.