TAMPA — With all the talk about C Steven Stamkos' scoring woes, those of LW Simon Gagne have gone relatively unnoticed.
Gagne's one goal in 16 games has been as much of a drag on a team that in eight of 10 games before Wednesday had just one or two goals. "It's frustrating, that's for sure," Gagne said.
With 10 goals and 22 points in 49 games, and at minus-18, it has been an underwhelming season for Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer making $5.25 million.
Coach Guy Boucher has been supportive. He praised Gagne's attitude, defensive awareness (he is plus-5 in his past 22 games) and increased physical play (eight of his 34 total hits were in his past five games). "He's battling," Boucher said. But he needs to score.
That seemed inevitable Monday when Gagne fired from the left post at what seemed an open net. But spinning Capitals G Braden Holtby lucked out and the puck hit his stick shaft.
"For whatever reason, that's the way it's been this year," said Gagne, who missed 18 games in October and November with a neck injury. "I can't do anything about what happened in the past. … The only thing I can control is to finish strong and have a good playoff."
STAMMER TIME: Stamkos' first goal in seven games, against the Blackhawks on Wednesday, was notable. But his backcheck on Chicago's Bryan Bickell helped Dwayne Roloson stop Bickell's breakaway with 1:42 left in overtime. "I turned it over a little bit at their blue line," Stamkos said. "So I knew I had to get back. I just put my head down and skated as fast as I could."
JONES OUT: The blue line continues to take a beating. D Randy Jones is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain of his left leg sustained late in the third against the Capitals. Jones declined to talk about it, saying, "I'll catch you next week." The loss is significant; he is a penalty killer and takes turns against top lines. He has a goal and 13 points and is minus-4 in 61 games while averaging 17:03 of ice time. He also is third on the team with 114 blocks. "It's one less guy who can give us a lot," Boucher said. "We can't have any more injuries on D or we're going to start hurting."
LUNDIN IN: The plan was to get D Mike Lundin in the lineup this weekend. But with Jones out and D Pavel Kubina (lower body) and D Marc-Andre Bergeron (back spasms) not 100 percent, Lundin, out 13 games with an abdominal injury, got the call against Chicago. The question was conditioning, and Boucher called Wednesday Lundin's "get-in-shape game." Lundin got 10:17 of ice time, 10:14 less than his average.
MORE INJURIES: The injury that has kept RW Steve Downie out for three games is likely a right knee problem sustained March 3 at Boston on a knee-to-knee hit with Shawn Thornton. The injury is the same leg as the high ankle sprain that has bothered Downie since December. There is no timetable for his return, Boucher said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy worked his 1,000th pro game. … Inside the Lightning: Physics of the Game debuts at 10:30 p.m. Friday on Sun Sports. … D Matt Smaby and F Mattias Ritola were scratched.