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Tampa Bay Lightning expects Victor Hedman back from injury Monday

WALLACE LURKS: Tim Wallace, right, loses the puck to Cam Ward but also in the first beats Ward for his first NHL goal.

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WALLACE LURKS: Tim Wallace, right, loses the puck to Cam Ward but also in the first beats Ward for his first NHL goal.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Lightning received encouraging news on D Victor Hedman (upper body) on Saturday. He is expected to return to practice Monday and could play in games next week, head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said.

On the other hand, veteran D Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) has decided to have surgery, which would likely end his season.

Hedman, 21, has missed the past four games. Mulligan said the defenseman saw several doctors last week, including a specialist Friday in Michigan. Though Mulligan wouldn't reveal the specific injury or symptoms, it was not a concussion, he said.

Considering Hedman sustained a concussion earlier this season, the 6-foot-6 Swede was pleased with the prognosis.

"He's making great progress, and if things keep going the way they're going, we're hopeful he'll be back to play within the next week," Mulligan said. "There's no concerns for anything long term, no issues. He's relieved."

Bergeron has missed 22 of the past 23 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, and GM Steve Yzerman said last week that Bergeron was considering surgery again.

The team confirmed Saturday that Bergeron will have a procedure, details and date to be determined.

"Surgery in sight," Bergeron said on Twitter. "Unfortunate but it's the reality of professional sport."

A NEW LEAF: D Keith Aulie, recently acquired from the Maple Leafs, said he was surprised to see coach Ron Wilson fired Friday, even with Toronto out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I didn't really think it'd happen during the year," Aulie said. "It's a little bit shocking, but maybe this is what they need, to get a spark, and maybe they can be back on track."

THE DISH: Coach Guy Boucher had been pleased with the size and physical nature of new defensemen Brian Lee (6-3, 205 pounds) and Mike Commodore (6-5, 228).

"We have been a smaller, skill-type defensive team, and it was good to see some size and aggressiveness," Boucher said. "They are really good additions."

Lee showed his offensive skill in Friday's win over the Rangers with two assists, including a nice feed on Steven Stamkos' goal.

"That was an unbelievable play by Brian Lee," Stamkos said.

"He's a great defender, and his offensive skills are very underrated. A lot of good defensemen in this league would have just shot that, but he had it set up the whole way."

CLOSE CALL: The Lightning is the best team in the league in one-goal games, going 21-3-6 this season for a .700 winning percentage.

Boucher said part of the reason is how much his team learned from playing through adversity last season, and the other is its desired defense-first style of play.

"We know when we play tight with numbers and we play a no-turnover game at the other team's blue line, we're hard to beat," Boucher said. "Because you're going to have to go through our four, five guys. That's the only way we've been good this year."

MISCELLANY: Wing Tim Wallace replaced Brandon Segal in the lineup and scored his first NHL goal in the first period.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com. View the Tampa Bay Times Lightning blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

Tampa Bay Lightning expects Victor Hedman back from injury Monday

03/03/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 3, 2012 11:50pm]

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