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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kurtis Foster out 5-7 days with lower-body injury

Victor Hedman, this year’s No. 2 overall draft pick, had a team-high 26:27 of ice time Saturday in his NHL debut.

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Victor Hedman, this year’s No. 2 overall draft pick, had a team-high 26:27 of ice time Saturday in his NHL debut.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Lightning picked up where it left off last season, with a defenseman sidelined because of injury.

The team announced Sunday that Kurtis Foster will be lost five to seven days with a lower-body injury sustained during Saturday's season-opening loss to the Thrashers. Foster left the game in the second period, though said afterward he believed he would be ready for Tuesday's game against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

Instead, coach Rick Tocchet said, either Lukas Krajicek or David Hale will play. "Smabes," he said of Matt Smaby, who like Krajicek and Hale was scratched against Atlanta, "will have to wait his turn."

Losing Foster means losing a big shot from the point on the power play. Tocchet said he is toying with using rookie D Victor Hedman there or creating a unit with five forwards.

SATURDAY NIGHT REWIND: After studying the tape of the 6-3 loss to the Thrashers, Tocchet said it wasn't as bad as the score indicated.

"I thought we did 85 percent really good, really well," he said. "We had a lot of chances. I think we had six point-blank chances to their one. … It could have been 3-0 after six, seven minutes of the game."

But Tampa Bay misfired at times, and Atlanta G Ondrej Pavelec was sharp.

"And then the details of our game got a little lax," Tocchet said, "not tracking good, overextending shifts, the defense not gapping up. Not a ton of it, but at key moments of the game, the details were just a little off. It's a good lesson for our first game of the year."

The positive, he said, is the mistakes are correctable. "You don't make a bunch of mistakes the second night in a row."

FAST START: It took D Andrej Meszaros 40 games last season to score his first goal, so to get one Saturday was a pretty big weight off his shoulders.

"It's nice to get one early and not worry about it," he said. "I treasure it every time I score. Hopefully, we'll get more as the season goes along."

Tocchet said the key for Meszaros is putting shots on goal: "He's got one of the better slap shots on our team. I felt last year he missed the net a lot. He shoots high all the time. If you look at that goal (Saturday) night, it was nice. It was not very high, and it was a real stinger. I don't even know if he had a big windup. The mechanics were perfect.

"He shoots like that, he's going to get some goals."

GOOD START: Hedman, 18, had a team-high 26 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time in his first NHL game, with five shots and an assist. He also was beaten through the slot once by Atlanta rookie Evander Kane.

"He's doing some really good things," Tocchet said. "Some rookie mistakes we have to correct. Sometimes he's overplaying to the boards side; we have to keep him on the dots and protect the middle. But overall, his game is good. He showed a lot of poise."

ODDS AND ENDS: There were no line changes at Sunday's practice. … Tocchet said there is no panic despite the expectations after a successful preseason. "There are some really good hockey clubs that lost their first two games," he said of the Hurricanes, Red Wings and Canucks. "We're fine."

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kurtis Foster out 5-7 days with lower-body injury 10/04/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 4, 2009 9:58pm]
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