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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund still bugged by ankle injury

RALEIGH, N.C. — Considering it was supposed to be a minor inconvenience, the suspected right ankle injury of D Mattias Ohlund has been a major pain.

Ohlund, hurt Nov. 14 against the Kings when, he said, his skate caught in the St. Pete Times Forum ice, said he will not play until Wednesday against the Maple Leafs at the earliest.

"In a perfect world, yeah," Ohlund said Saturday. "But first I have to get back on the ice."

Ohlund, who hasn't skated since Monday, said that could happen "in the next day or two."

"It's just one of those things," he said. "When it happened, I didn't think it was anything, but it's been very slow. But I feel better every day."

Losing Ohlund has been significant. He is plus-2 with six assists and leads Tampa Bay with an average 24:33 of ice time. But coach Rick Tocchet said he will not rush Ohlund's recovery.

"Like I've said, we're going to be real cautious on this," he said. "If it's going to take a couple days after (Wednesday), I'm all for it. A guy like him logs a lot of minutes. We want to make sure he's fairly healthy."

Lundin, Smaby called up: Defensemen Mike Lundin and Matt Smaby were called up from AHL Norfolk.

Lundin, with two goals and 11 points in 20 games for the Admirals, will add depth to a blue line down to six available players. Tocchet made it sound as if he could play today against the Thrashers.

Smaby, who has not played an NHL game this season, for the second time had a conditioning assignment cut short because of an upper-body injury, though Tocchet said this injury is different from the first.

Making his point: Zenon Konopka doesn't hesitate to make fun of himself for having zero points. But Tocchet said the fourth-line center contributes in ways not on the score sheet.

Take Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Ducks. Tampa Bay was down 2-0 when Konopka picked a second-period fight with RW Mike Brown. Though Anaheim went up 3-0 before the Lightning roared back to tie, Tocchet said he saw an immediate spark.

"People say, 'Ah, I don't believe in that stuff,' " Tocchet said. "But it worked for us. To me, that's as good as a point. That's an assist."

"I wasn't going to take no for an answer," Konopka, tied for second in the league with seven fights entering Saturday, said of challenging Brown. "You've got to trust your instincts. I felt it was the right time."

Tough times: Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said a recent winless stretch of 14 games, including a seven-game losing streak, was the most challenging of his career:

"These things either get you closer together or a whole lot farther apart. You're just watching for signs that it's going either way and try to encourage that they stay in the fight."

Odds and ends: The Lightning lost in regulation on the road for the first time in six games (3-1-2). … Tampa Bay is on a 0-6-2 streak in Carolina. … G Antero Niittymaki, expected to play today in Atlanta, is 13-0 against the Thrashers. … LW Alex Tanguay turned 30 but did not get a shaving cream pie in the face.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund still bugged by ankle injury 11/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 11:59pm]
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