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Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith sore but recovering after 'small truck' hit

Mike Smith loses his mask and gains pain after being hit by the Devils’ Jamie Langenbrunner and teammate Ryan Malone.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Mike Smith loses his mask and gains pain after being hit by the Devils’ Jamie Langenbrunner and teammate Ryan Malone.

TAMPA — G Mike Smith described his injury as general soreness and stiffness, and said he could have played Saturday without consequence.

Coach Rick Tocchet agreed and said his decision to start Antero Niittymaki against the Hurricanes "wasn't because (Smith) is hurt. I wanted to play Niitty. It's Niitty's turn."

Still, it sounded as if Smith, who said he thought his back was broken Thursday against the Devils when he was run over by New Jersey's Jamie Langen­brunner, didn't mind the day off.

"I got hit by a small truck. It was like I was in a car accident," Smith said of the collision that was intensified by teammate Ryan Malone ramming Langen­brunner into the goalie.

"Usually, the second or third day it's worse, and then you start to turn the corner and get better. I'm not worried. I'll live through it. Hopefully, it doesn't happen very often, and thankfully I wasn't injured more than I was."

Smith said he plans to be ready for Monday's game with the Panthers.

"I should be back and ready to go," he said. "I could probably play (against the Hurricanes) and be fine. But (Niittymaki) deserves a shot, and I'm sure he'll come out and play real well."

He did, with 24 saves. Tocchet called him "a solid professional."

KRAJICEK IN: With D Kurtis Foster still out with a lower-body injury and replacement David Hale out with what the team said was the flu, Lukas Krajicek got his first regular-season action.

"Obviously, anybody would be frustrated if anybody on this team wouldn't play," Krajicek said. "Everybody wants to play the game. So, finally, I'm in, and we'll see how long it stays."

Krajicek had two shots and two blocks in 11:31 of ice time.

FOSTER UPDATE: Tocchet said Foster, who missed his third straight game, needs some "practice and pushing and shoving before he gets out there."

GOAL-ORIENTED: C Vinny Lecavalier and LW Alex Tanguay have zero goals combined, and Tanguay said some frustration is building.

"Both of us are a little frustrated right now," he said. "The pucks aren't going in, but it's been the story of the team. … But when you get chances, they will eventually go in, so we'll just keep on working, and hopefully we can release some of that frustration."

Lecavalier and C Steven Stamkos are tied for the team lead with 20 shots. Tanguay, acquired, in part, to get Lecavalier going, has three.

"They've had a lot of chances. I'd be worried if they weren't getting them," Tocchet said and added:

"They just have to keep playing the right way. They can't cheat. That's the biggest thing with your best players. If they start cheating, then we're in trouble as a team, and that's the one thing we stressed to those guys."

ODDS AND ENDS: LW Radek Smolenak was claimed off waivers from the Blackhawks and assigned to AHL Norfolk. Smolenak was lost to Chicago through waivers during training camp. … Lecavalier won 12 of 16 faceoffs. … Tocchet on adding assistant coach Adam Oates: "We needed to add to the hockey IQ of our coaching staff." … Carolina's Paul Maurice coached his 900th game, with 379 victories.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith sore but recovering after 'small truck' hit 10/10/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2009 1:29am]

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