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Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith out two to three weeks

TAMPA — The Lightning will be without G Mike Smith for two to three weeks with a "minor" sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, GM Steve Yzerman said.

Smith was hurt during Monday's morning skate when his knee twisted when his skate was clipped by the skate of teammate Simon Gagne, who cut a tight path around the net.

Smith, who left the ice under his own power, had an MRI exam that showed no structural damage, Yzerman said.

"It is not a major injury."

But it does create interesting scenarios.

Yzerman said Dan Ellis will get the bulk of work. Cedrick Desjardins, coincidentally called up Monday from AHL Norfolk to get in some work with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean, will back up.

There are no plans, Yzerman said, to go outside the organization for a goalie once the NHL roster freeze ends Dec. 28.

"It's a great opportunity," Yzerman said of Ellis. "Every goalie wants to play and start and have multiple games to play to get in a groove, and he's going to get that opportunity."

As for Desjardins, 25, who has never played an NHL game, Yzerman said, "Whenever (coach Guy Boucher) decides to go with the backup, Cedrick will play."

Tampa Bay plays games Wednesday and Thursday against the Islanders and Rangers, but it did not sound as if Desjardins is in the immediate plan.

"There might be a an opportunity for him to get a little piece of the action," Boucher said. "But it wasn't the plan and is still not the plan."

DESJARDINS UP: Had Norfolk not had a week off between games — it plays Sunday — Desjardins would not have been called up, Boucher said.

Desjardins, 12-5-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .900 save percentage for the Admirals, was to work with Jean. Having never been on an NHL team in his five-year pro career, he also has a chance to soak up some atmosphere, and perhaps make his debut.

"It's a dream come true for me," Desjardins said. "I worked hard to be here, and I want to enjoy every second of it and stay here for the longest time possible."

The extended look is good for the Lightning, too, as Desjardins, signed as a free agent, is on a one-year contract.

"At some point he has to get an opportunity in the NHL, and it looks like he'll get that opportunity," Yzerman said. "We have to figure out what we're going to do with him as well."

Milestone 100: C Steven Stamkos' 100th career goal came on his bobblehead night.

"I've got a bunch of buddies in town, and I told them to come here early if they wanted bobbleheads," he said. "To score one to get a huge win, you couldn't have asked for anything better."

As for the milestone itself, Stamkos said, "You remember your first goal like it was yesterday, and to have 100 in a short career is obviously a great accomplishment. … We're on a good streak right now as a team. I was just happy to chip in."

RITOLA UPDATE: F Mattias Ritola has new earplugs to wear on today's plane ride that begins a two-game road trip in New York. Ritola's Meniere's disease, which produces dizziness and ringing in his right ear, seems to have been controlled by new medication, he said. Another test will be flying, which exacerbates the condition.

ODDS AND ENDS: The NHL roster freeze, in effect until Dec. 28, prevents teams from trading players off the active roster or injured reserve. But they can sign players or make callups from the minors. … Ritola and RW Steve Downie (ankle) were scratched. … C Vinny Lecavalier's assist on Sean Bergenheim's goal was his 750th career point. … Bergenheim failed on a third-period penalty shot.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith out two to three weeks 12/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10:31am]
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