TAMPA — Lightning D Marc-Andre Bergeron is considering surgery to fix his lower-back injury, an action that would end his season, GM Steve Yzerman said Friday.
Bergeron has missed 21 of the past 22 games with a bulging disc that is affecting his sciatic nerve. He had surgery in April 2009 while with the Wild to address a similar issue.
"He's got to make a decision," Yzerman said. "Does he want to rehab it, or does he want to try to go in and have that cleaned up and see if that does the trick?"
If Bergeron, who Monday saw a doctor in New York, decides against surgery, he might be able to return, Yzerman said: "Then it comes down to how he feels."
Yzerman had less information about D Victor Hedman, out three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury Yzerman has said he does not believe is concussion-related. Hedman had more tests Friday.
CORE GROUP: In six games C Vinny Lecavalier has missed because of a fractured right hand, the Lightning has scored 17 goals to go 4-2-0, 13 by C Steven Stamkos (five), W Marty St. Louis (four) and RW Teddy Purcell (four).
"With the trades (before Monday's deadline) and Vinny injured, it's not like we're asking guys on our third and fourth line or even the second line to go out there and score goals," coach Guy Boucher said. "Once Vinny is there, we're going to try to spread the wealth a little bit."
When that will happen is undetermined. Boucher said Tuesday that in a best-case scenario, Lecavalier might be back in 10 days. But Lecavalier said there is no timetable.
"I can't pick up stuff," said the captain, who skated by himself Friday for 45 minutes wearing two 5-pound weight vests. "The strength isn't there."
So, though Boucher said "we need bonus goals from other guys," the pressure is on Stamkos, St. Louis and Purcell. "We're offensive guys and counted on by teammates and ourselves," Stamkos said. "We want that pressure."
DEBUT: D Keith Aulie, acquired Monday from the Maple Leafs, made his debut and played 10:39 with three hits and a blocked shot.
Aulie played just two shifts in the third period and none in overtime, but Boucher said that was because it was his first game: "He was good. A big body with mobility. That helped us."
SEARCHING: It sounds as if the Lightning is in on the pursuit of D Danny DeKeyser. The Western Michigan sophomore is one of college hockey's most sought-after players and has three goals, 11 points and is plus-10 in 34 games. "We'll just wait and see whether he remains in school or turns pro," Yzerman said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Free agent RW Danick Gauthier, 20, signed a three-year entry-level contract. Gauthier had 41 goals, 72 points and 61 penalty minutes in 59 games entering Friday for Saint John of the junior Quebec league. … RW Ryan Shannon played after missing three games with an upper-body injury. … RW Tim Wallace also was scratched.
Lightning at Hurricanes
When/where: 7; RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM
Key stats: Hurricanes C Eric Staal has seven goals, 11 assists in a 10-game points streak, and his nine-game assist streak is the league's longest this season. … The Lightning is 3-4-0 in the second of back-to-back games. … Carolina is on an 11-3-3 streak at home.