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Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos hurting but hopes to play

TAMPA — C Steven Stamkos figured Penguins D Brooks Orpik would use his stick to try to block Stamkos' shot. But Orpik "finished his check," as Stamkos put it, and Stamkos slammed into the boards.

The result: a bruised back that had Stamkos walking stiffly after the game. It is unclear if he will play Tuesday against the Coyotes.

"It's going to take something pretty substantial," Stamkos said when asked if he might sit out. "I'm going to battle through it, and, hopefully, it feels better. I'm 99 percent positive I'm going to play."

Sunday was a rough day for the Lightning injury report.

D Mattias Ohlund, hurt Thursday against the Maple Leafs, is out indefinitely with a left-ankle sprain. C Zenon Konopka has a mild disc herniation, and rehab has been slow, medical trainer Tommy Mulligan said.

While the official report is LW Marty St. Louis has bumps and bruises, coach Rick Tocchet said St. Louis, like Stamkos, was "banged up pretty bad."

Stamkos, with a team-best 42 goals and hurt on the game's first shift, seems the most immediate concern.

"I was just shooting. I was kind of off-balance," said Stamkos, whose 17:59 of ice time was 2:13 below his average. "I didn't think he'd come all the way and hit me. … It was a clean play, I thought. I just was in that danger area where I was 4 or 5 feet from the boards. I was off-balance from the shot and went in pretty hard."

"Stammer was in a vulnerable position," Tocchet said, "but you can't blame Orpik for doing it."

Downie vs. Crosby: At about the same time Stamkos hit the boards, Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby's right knee bent back perilously far as he fell on top of Lightning RW Steve Downie.

"For a minute or two, I was pretty scared," Crosby said of the pain. "But with time it was able to go away a little bit."

Downie said he was just trying to push Crosby away when the two fell. "We were battling for ice," he said.

But Crosby, who played a game-high 23:44 of ice time, was a bit more judgmental:

"He kind of got his leg underneath me and was trying to catch up with me there. He got me in a pretty bad position. … I don't think there's a need for his leg to be behind my knee like that, but after we both fall, I guess anything can happen. But when you put your leg behind a guy like that, it's a little questionable."

Hot ticket: The crowd of 20,230, the season's largest, was Tampa Bay's third sellout and second against the Penguins, who have sold out their past four games at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Odds and ends: C Vinny Lecavalier reached 20 goals for the 10th straight season. … New owner Jeff Vinik was at the game and met with Gov. Charlie Crist. … Konopka's sister, Cynthia, an Ontario opera singer, performed the national anthem. "At least one Konopka will be in the lineup," the brother said. … G Antero Niittymaki played his 200th NHL game. … D David Hale (broken leg) is skating. … Penguins W Evgeni Malkin left the game with a right foot injury.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos hurting but hopes to play 03/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010 12:39am]

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