WASHINGTON — D Mattias Ohlund will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees today, keeping one of the Lightning's top defensemen and penalty killers out for potentially another month.
General manager Steve Yzerman said the procedure, to be completed today in Tampa, will clean out loose bodies that have caused irritation in the alternate captain's knees. Yzerman estimated Ohlund could miss 4-6 weeks but said it might be less, depending on his progress. Ohlund hasn't practiced since Sept. 30, having dealt with right knee pain near the end of the preseason, and is on injured reserve.
While structural damage was ruled out in an MRI last week, further examination revealed that an arthroscopic procedure could remove loose cartilage.
"Not that there's ever a good time, but to go in and do one, you might as well do both," Yzerman said.
Coach Guy Boucher said Ohlund's absence creates a "major hole." Though the team is more than comfortable with putting D Victor Hedman against the top lines in a pairing with D Eric Brewer, it asks a lot of other defensemen, who have to step into that second pairing. Yzerman said it'll give an opportunity for more ice time to the likes of D Matt Gilroy, D Bruno Gervais and D Marc-Andre Bergeron.
"All I know is we've got a guy that plays against the top lines that we don't have," Boucher said. "And you can't replace that. It really puts a major hole in you're lineup, and we've got a major hole in our lineup."
HIGH PRAISE: One bright spot over the Lightning's first three games has been rookie Brett Connolly, who picked up his first NHL point Monday, an assist on Dominic Moore's second-period goal.
"He's shown me (guts)," Boucher said before Monday's game. "I've seen him play really well with the rookies; rookie camp he looked like a man amongst boys. So then you wait for training camp, and during training camp he adapted every day, and then you get to exhibition games where he looked great.
"And after exhibition games, when the real games started, I figure his play is going to lower down a little bit, and it hasn't."
LINING UP: RW Mattias Ritola got his turn in the forward rotation Monday night, playing 6 minutes, 36 seconds. Boucher said it was planned for the first three games with C Blair Jones (Friday) and Tom Pyatt (Saturday) to each get one game. As for how the rotation goes from now on, Boucher said, "ask them, the ball is in their camp."
Gervais, making his Lightning debut, assisted on the team's first goal and scored later in the first period, snapping a 56-game goalless streak.
MISCELLANY: About 2,000 tickets remain for Monday's home opener, the team said. … Gilroy, Jones and Pyatt were scratches.