TAMPA — Since Lightning C Steven Stamkos was diagnosed with a blood clot in his right collarbone area two weeks ago, he has kept a low profile, at least publicly.
But Stamkos, out 1-3 months after his April 4 surgery, has still made his presence felt with the Lightning, attending the team dinner Tuesday and watching Wednesday's Game 1 from the locker room.
"He's been stealth," coach Jon Cooper said. "It's just killing him not being able to play. When he was in the hospital I'm sure myself and everyone else on the team went to see him before we went on the road trip. It's remarkable. It seems like it just happened and it's actually two weeks ago (Thursday). He's been in touch with a lot of guys, he's staying out of the public eye, but it's just hard, we want him playing.
"He wants to be playing so bad."
Several teammates visited Stamkos at the hospital Monday, before he was released. LW Alex Killorn said Stamkos' message was to keep their playoff run going: "Just go to the finals and maybe I'll see you guys."
"It's awesome having him around, he can still bring that leadership," RW Ryan Callahan said. "He's been there before, he knows what we're going through, how we're feeling. It's good, it's uplifting to have him around the room."
On the mend: Callahan, who missed Thursday's practice due to body maintenance, skated Friday morning and played in Game 2. Callahan might have to play through some pain, having missed the final three regular-season games with a lower-body injury. Callahan said he'll take it day by day.
Tough task: One of the biggest challenges for the Red Wings in this series is slowing down the Lightning's hot line of C Tyler Johnson, Killorn and RW Nikita Kucherov, which has combined for 15 points in the first two games (seven goals, eight assists).
"Speed, skill, talent, determination — they've got the whole package," Wings D Niklas Kronwall said. "One thing we need to do is take away more time and space from them. When they get that extra step on you, they make it hard. But if we can be there right away, I think it's going to make it harder for them."
lining up: The Lightning went with the same lineup, with RW Erik Condra, RW Jonathan Marchessault and D Matt Taormina healthy scratches again. G Ben Bishop started.
nuts and bolts: RW J.T. Brown suffered an upper-body injury early in the first period and did not return. For the second straight game, RW Jonathan Drouin played the second-most minutes among Lightning forwards (19:17 second to Valtteri Filppula's 19:59). "We're really pleased with the way he's playing," Cooper said. "That's why he's getting the ice he's getting." D Anton Stralman (fractured left leg) was walking around after the game without the use of crutches or a walking boot, a sign of progress. … D Victor Hedman had a team-high five shots and 24 minutes. … There were 119 combined penalty minutes Friday.
Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report. Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.